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.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.