Why is Jeff Samardzija in the majors?

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This isn’t a piece designed to answer that question. It’s an actual inquiry. What on earth is Jeff Samardzija doing in the Cubs bullpen?

Going into the spring, it seemed to be pretty much a given that Samardzija would have a roster spot because he was out of options and because the Cubs had so much invested in him, the result of a $10 million contract designed to prevent the former Notre Dame receiver from returning to football.

But the fact that the Cubs do have so much invested in Samardzija meant there wasn’t any real risk of losing him. Samardzija would have been exposed to waivers if the Cubs had send him down, but with a salary of about $2 million this year, there was no chance any team was going to claim him on waivers. It would have been terrific for the Cubs if some team had.

Because make no mistake, Samardzija isn’t a major league pitcher. He did manage to retire three of the five hitters he faced today, but the other two walked and came around to score off Marcus Mateo, leaving Samardzija with a 9.00 ERA through two innings for the season.

While Samardzija got off to a nice start in 26 relief appearances in 2008, his major league ERA now stands at 6.02 in 83 2/3 innings. He’s struck out 57 and walked 54 during that span.  Since the beginning of last year, he’s allowed 20 runs and posted an 11/24 K/BB ratio in 21 1/3 innings.

So why are the Cubs carrying him? It’s not like they bypassed any great alternatives, but they could have tried Todd Wellemeyer or Robert Coello. I agree about keeping Casey Coleman in the rotation at Triple-A Iowa, but using fellow prospect Chris Carpenter as a reliever would have made sense.

Anyway, I give it a month. Samardzija won’t last season the season with the Cubs, and my guess is that he’s designated for assignment within 30 days.  The Cubs may not be too much better for it, but every little bit will help.

Cody Bellinger will lead off for Dodgers in Game 5

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Cody Bellinger was the last batter of the game last night, getting the walkoff hit for the Dodgers in the bottom of the 13th inning. Tonight he’ll lead off the bottom of the first inning, as Dave Roberts has placed him atop the Dodger lineup.

For Milwaukee, it’s righty-heavy, as they’ll face off against lefty Clayton Kershaw. It certainly worked for them in Game 1 when they scored five runs — four earned — on six hits and two walks while striking out just twice against the Dodgers ace.

Lately, however, everyone’s bats have gone cold. The Brewers went scoreless over the final eight innings last night. The Dodgers have scored only three runs the 22 innings of play at Dodger Stadium thus far. Here are the fellas that will try to change that here in a couple of hours:

Brewers

1. Lorenzo Cain (R) CF
2. Christian Yelich (L) RF
3. Ryan Braun (R) LF
4. Jesus Aguilar (R) 1B
5. Hernan Perez (R) 2B
6. Mike Moustakas (L) 3B
7. Erik Kratz (R) C
8. Orlando Arcia (R) SS
9. Wade Miley (L) P

Dodgers

1. Cody Bellinger (L) CF
2. Justin Turner (R) 3B
3. David Freese (R) 1B
4. Manny Machado (R) SS
5. Max Muncy (L) 2B
6. Chris Taylor (R) LF
7. Enrique Hernandez (R) RF
8. Austin Barnes (R) C
9. Clayton Kershaw (L) P