The Cubs have seen enough from Jeff Samardzija to judge his 2012 a successful season, and manager Dale Sveum announced Friday that Samardzija’s 28th start Saturday against the Pirates would be his final outing of the year.
It is a precautionary move. Samardzija is currently at 165 2/3 innings this season after throwing 88 while working exclusively as a reliever last year.
While Samardzija possesses an 8-13 record, his ERA stands at 3.91 and he has a strong 171/55 K/BB ratio. He’s finishing on a high note, too, as he’s allowed just five earned runs and posted a 25/3 K/BB ratio over 21 innings in his last three starts.
Replacing Samardzija in the rotation will be Jason Berken, who was claimed off waivers from the Orioles today. Berken was 5-6 with a 3.60 ERA in 26 starts for Triple-A Norfolk this season. He’s made 81 relief appearances but never started a game as a major leaguer.
The Cubs will apparently finish out the year with a rotation of Chris Volstad, Travis Wood, Jason Germano, Chris Rusin and Berken. Volstad, who is 2-10 and has been demoted to the minors twice, is the only holdover from the Opening Day rotation that also included Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Paul Maholm and Samardzija.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.