Ryan Sweeney’s game-tying RBI single in the top of the seventh inning against the Cardinals on Friday night may have seemed innocent, but it ended a rather embarrassing stretch devoid of any run support for starter Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs were shut out with Samardzija on the bump in his first two starts of the 2014 season and entering the seventh inning Friday night (a span of 20 innings). They were also shut out in his final start of the 2013 season, and did not score with him as the pitcher of record in his second to last start either.
The last time they had scored for him entering tonight’s start was on September 17, 2013 when they put up a three-spot in the seventh inning against Brewers starter Marco Estrada. Samardzija put up a zero in the bottom half of the inning and exited.
As for Friday’s start, Samardzija held the Cardinals to one run over seven innings, allowing six hits and striking out four without issuing a walk. He was the pitcher of record when the Cubs scored two more runs in the eighth inning to take a 3-1 lead. Samardzija has pitched well through his first three starts of the 2014 season, currently sitting with a 1.29 ERA.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.
Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”
Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.
Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.