Jeff Samardzija entered Saturday’s start against the Pirates with full knowledge that it would be his last. Over the next couple of hours, he pitched like a man wanting to make a grand final statement.
The former Notre Dame wideout struck out nine batters in a complete-game victory at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, allowing just four hits and two earned runs while fanning nine. He threw 120 pitches — 81 of which were strikes — as the Cubs rolled 4-3.
Samardzija was merely a setup man last season and seemed destined to remain one for the rest of his career, but the rebuilding Northsiders decided to give him a crack in the rotation this spring and may have found themselves a top-end starter to build around.
The 27-year-old will finish up with a 3.81 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and a 180/56 K/BB ratio in 174 2/3 innings. He topped out at 88 frames in the Cubs’ bullpen last year, which is why he’s being shut down prematurely.
Confirming a report from Enrique Rojas of ESPN, the Rays have called up top prospect shortstop Willy Adames from Triple-A Durham. Adeiny Hechavarria was placed on the disabled list over the weekend due to a hamstring strain, so this is a good opportunity to give Adames his first shot in the big leagues.
Per Bill Chastain of MLB.com, Adames will start at shortstop and bat fifth in his major league debut Tuesday against the Red Sox. He gets to face Chris Sale, so he’s getting thrown right into the fire.
Adames came over to the Rays via the Tigers in the David Price deal back in July of 2014 and has been a mainstay on prospect lists along the way. Baseball America ranked him as the No. 19 prospect in the game back in January.
Adames, 22, was batting .311/.387/.466 with four homers through 40 games in Triple-A this season. That was after hitting .277/.360/.415 with 10 homers over 130 games at the level last year, so the progress has been nice to see. He’ll presumably get every opportunity to stick as a shortstop for now.
The Rays place Joey Wendle on the paternity leave list in a corresponding roster move.