The Chicago Cubs were already going to finish the 2012 MLB season without Matt Garza. Jeff Samardzija will join him after he makes his final start on September 8. The Cubs will play against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
What's the difference in these situations? Whereas Garza can't finish the season, Samardzija won't finish the season. That doesn't mean that Samardzija doesn't want to finish the season. Since spring training, he has supposedly fought the idea of being shutdown early.
The Cubs are protecting a player who they consider as a long-term fixture in the starting rotation. With a 51-86 record, the only reason that Samardzija would finish the season is to avoid the humiliation from a 100-loss season. The Cubs will complete their season with their top-two starting pitchers as Travis Wood and Chris Volstad. Samardzija's replacement hasn't been announced.
Entering this season, Samardzija had pitched 169.2 career innings. As a reliever in 2011, Samardzija pitched 88 innings. As of September 7, Samardzija has already exceeded 165 innings pitched. The Cubs don't want to place too much stress on their young hurler's arm.
I'm very appreciative of the conservative approach. It's of the utmost importance that Samardzija is healthy for 2013. Had this been the Jim Hendry administration, the Cubs would still be playing all of their veterans. Marlon Byrd would probably have never been traded; he'd be starting in center field.
Cubs enthusiasts should know better than anybody about what can happen when pitchers are treated recklessly. Don't remember? Let me remind you in two words: Dusty Baker.
Shutting down Samardzija is a no-brainer decision. Despite being one of the World Series favorites, the Washington Nationals intend to shutdown Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals have proceeded with so much caution toward his long-term health that they're willing to reduce the probability that they win a World Series in the short term. Of course, it's easier to take this route when they have two other ace pitchers (Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann).
In the Nationals' case, I disagree with benching their starting pitcher. A team only gets so many opportunities to win a Commissioner's Trophy. With that said, how foolish would it be for Samardzija to pitch when Strasburg isn't pitching?
It'd be an epic level of foolishness. The Cubs won't get any arguments from me. Their conservative approach is wise. Samardzija doesn't need to become another pitcher who ruined his career because of an arm injury that should've never happened.
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. He immediately gained an admiration for Cubs fans after watching numerous games on WGN during the mid-90s. His favorite Cubs moment was Kerry Wood's(notes) 1-hitter, 20K extravaganza that was only denied of a no-hitter by Kevin Orie's defensive blunder. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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