The Cubs plan to shut down Jeff Samardzija after Saturday according to Doug Padilla of ESPN. Samardzija is already at a career high in innngs and has doubled his total from last season. The Cubs also played it safe with Matt Garza earlier this season even though the pitcher felt he would be able to pitch this season. With nothing tangible to play for, the Cubs have decided that their long term future is best served by making sure their top remaining pitchers are healthy for next season and beyond.
In a related move, the Cubs have picked up RHP Jason Berken, 28, off of waivers and placed RHRP Blake Parker on the 60 day DL. Berken has been a starter for Baltimore's AAA affiliate. Berken took a step forward this year by losing 30 pounds and after a period of adjustment, has started pitching well again this season. He has put up a 3.50 ERA (3.66 FIP) in 26 starts this season. His strikeout to walk rate per 9 innings this year has been a solid 6.14/2.44 and he has cut down his HR rate to 0.63. He fits the Cubs profile in that he throws strikes and keeps the ball in the park.
His stuff is better than some of the more recent pickups. He has a solid arm, sitting at around 91-93 mph and also throws a slider, curve, and change. As recently as 2009, he was rated as the Baltimore Orioles #17 prospect, according to Baseball America.
The moves today show once again that the the Cubs continue to look for inexpensive short-term solutions to their pitching staff while keeping their eyes firmly fixed on 2013 and beyond.