WASHINGTON - Unless the Cubs suddenly reverse course and let Jeff Samardzija make a run at 200 innings in his first season as a big-league starter, the team's ERA and innings leader faces the probability of being shut down sometime in the next two weeks.
``We have to sit down with the whole organization and evaluate that decision and see where we want to be,'' Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Tuesday, the day after Samardzija went seven innings for the fifth time in six starts - reaching 165 2/3 this season.
If a long-standing innings-management plan weren't involved, Samardzija, 27, would figure to have five starts left, giving him an outside shot at 200 - more than double last season's total as a reliever and 58 1/3 more than his pro career high.
``That'll obviously be a lot more innings than he's ever pitched in quite a while, but the strength level is obviously there right now,'' Sveum said. ``It's something we've got to really evaluate. ... It gets to the point where you know there's certain people who are very important to the organization going forward and you're not going to put anybody in harm's way, either. It doesn't make any sense.''
On the other hand, the Cubs do not otherwise have a fifth healthy pitcher on the roster with even one start this season to replace Samardzija (8-14, 3.91). If he makes two more starts, the Cubs would need a spot starter/bullpen day at least twice.