MESA, Ariz. – After weeks of delaying what seemed like an obvious decision, Cubs manager Rick Renteria on Friday declared Jeff Samardzija his starter the Cubs’ March 31 opener in Pittsburgh.
It’s the second consecutive opening start for Samardzija, who recorded a 200-inning, 200-strikeout season in his first full year as a starter in 2013, along with an 8-13 record and 4.34 ERA.
In last year’s opener, also in Pittsburgh, Samardzija pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing two hits and one walk, to beat the Pirates 3-1.
Samardzija gets the nod this year over left-hander Travis Wood, the Cubs’ lone All-Star last year.
“Jeff’s done it before,” Renteria said. “He’s put in a very strong year, as Woody did. I think the decision was quite easy for all of us in that regard.”
Samardzija has a 4-1 record and 0.73 ERA in four career starts and five relief appearances at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Wood, who likely will be the rotation’s only left-hander, is scheduled to start Game 2 in Pittsburgh, with Edwin Jackson making the third start, Renteria said.
That would line up newcomer Jason Hammel to start the Cubs’ April 4 home opener against Ryne Sandeberg’s Philadelphia Phillies.