Rookie shuts down Nationals; Samardzija sees ERA balloon in DB loss

The present and the future of the Cubs were on display all day and all night Saturday.

Rookie Dallas Beeler made his major-league debut in the afternoon and was impressive in a 3-0 loss to the Washington Nationals in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.

Staff ace Jeff Samardzija, the mainstay of the staff, pitched the night game and was anything but impressive as the Cubs fell 7-2.

The question now is: Will Samardzija soon be part of the Cubs' past?

With the Cubs seemingly at a stalemate with Samardzija on talks for a contract extension, talk has been that they'll deal him to a contending team on or before the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline.

That's what made Saturday's juxtaposition so interesting.

The Cubs are going to need pitchers to fill the starting rotation when and if they do trade Samardzija and/or Jason Hammel, who won Friday.

Consider the first audition to have gone to Beeler. The 25-year-old sinkerballer came up from Class AAA Iowa and turned in a quality start, working 6 innings and giving up 4 hits and only an unearned run. He just had the misfortune of going up against Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez, who tossed 7 innings of shutout ball.

The Cubs were allowed to add a 26th man to the roster for the doubleheader, and they could have gone any number of ways for a pitcher.

It just so happened that Beeler was on track to pitch, and on top of that, the Cubs wanted a sinkerballer to face the Washington lineup.

It was only 1 start for Beeler, but he left a positive impression for future use.

“You're always trying to make an impression,” he said. “But when I got out there, I just wanted to make pitches. I wanted to pitch my game ... I just went out there and just tried to throw, actually.”

The Cubs got a look at Beeler in spring training. The staff at Iowa also includes top prospect Kyle Hendricks, Northwestern product Eric Jokisch (a lefty), veteran left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada and lefty Chris Rusin, who has major-league experience.

Whichever way the Cubs go and whenever they go that way, the possibilities are more appetizing than they were as recently as two years ago, when they had to fill in with the likes of journeymen Justin Germano, Jason Berken and Chris Volstad.

Last year, the Cubs got a look at Jake Arrieta in the second half after they obtained him from Baltimore for Scott Feldman, and now, Arrieta is in the big-league rotation and pitching well.

“Beels showed really good stuff today,” said manager Rick Renteria. “He's a Cubbie now, and what the future holds for any of our guys, obviously, I don't have a crystal ball.”

As for Samardzija, his record dropped to 2-7, and his ERA went from 2.53 to 2.83. He had to sit out an almost hourlong rain delay in the fourth inning.

Looking at the numbers a different way, Samardzija's ERA is 5.45 in June.

“You can break numbers up any way you want,” he said. “You can say, 'Oh, on Wednesdays he doesn't pitch real good' and this and that. Every game is its own separate thing. If some of those games happen to match up together and make your numbers bad in a certain month, then so be it. We don't break numbers down by month. We go start to start.

“I feel great. The ball's coming out good. I think the pitches are good. Like I said, we maybe need to mix up our pitch selection a little bit and get some earlier outs and get us back in the dugout.”

Jeff Samardzija delivers a pitch during the first inning of the second game of a day-night doubleheader against the Nationals on Saturday. Associated Press
Chicago Cubs third baseman Mike Olt throws to first after Washington Nationals' Denard Span hit a bunt during the sixth inning of a baseball game Saturday at Wrigley Field. Associated Press
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