The (long) wait is over. Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija pitched in a ton of tough luck over his first 10 starts this season, but he finally got into the win column today as part of an 8-4 victory over the Giants in at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Samardzija allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and no walks over seven-plus innings in the win. He struck out 10 batters for the first time this season. It was the sixth double-digit strikeout game of his career.
The Cubs averaged 1.82 runs per game in Samardzija’s first 10 starts this season, the lowest in the majors, but they put eight runs on the board today against Yusmeiro Petit and David Huff. The win was actually his first since August 24 of last year, a span of 17 starts.
Samardzija now owns a fantastic 1.68 ERA and 64/21 K/BB in 75 innings over his first 11 starts this season. Only the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright (1.67 ERA) has a lower ERA among starters. The Cubs have quite a trade commodity on their hands here.
With just over a week left in the regular season, the Diamondbacks have elected to shut down infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte. Marte has been dealing with some lower back inflammation and stiffness over the last few days; on Friday, the team revealed that he was diagnosed with a stress reaction as well.
It doesn’t look as though the injury will compromise Marte’s 2020 campaign, but as Craig noted on Wednesday, his absence will likely have some effect on his NL MVP candidacy. The 25-year-old will wrap his first All-Star season with a .329/.389/.592 batting line, 32 home runs, a .981 OPS, and a staggering, career-best 7.1 fWAR through 628 plate appearances.
Marte told reporters Thursday that the back pain had been an issue “for the past two months,” though he didn’t comment on the severity of the injury. Despite his ability to play through the pain since July, the issue has clearly escalated in the last week or so. Although the loss of their most valuable contributor may have a negative impact on the D-backs’ chances of competing in the postseason, it’s undeniably a wise move to let Marte recuperate rather than pushing him to play for another week and running the risk of further injury.
Entering Friday’s series against the Padres — their last road series of the regular season — Arizona still has a sizable gap to close in order to earn one of two NL wild card spots. They’re five games out of postseason contention, with the Nationals, Brewers, Cubs, Mets, and Phillies ahead of them.