Samardzija looks for 1st win since August


CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija, winless in nine starts, leads the major leagues with a 1.62 ERA as he heads into his start against the New York Yankees on Wednesday afternoon.

As the scouts start to line up for his final 12 or 13 outings before the major league trade deadline on July 31, could the Yankees be a viable suitor?

"No, the Yankees don't have the parts," ESPN.com Insider Keith Law said.

The Yankees are not top-heavy in pitching prospects, according to Law, and the Cubs expect to receive arms in return for Samardzija if indeed he is traded this season.

The most likely suitors are still the Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves, according to a league source. Those were teams that have inquired about the Cubs' ace in the past. There are bound to be other teams -- potentially new suitors -- that are in the pennant race come July.

When the Cubs pull the trigger on a deal is anyone's guess. Last season they moved starter Scott Feldman to Baltimore well before (July 3) the July 31 deadline and Garza went to the Texas Rangers much closer (July 23).

But trade talk is on hold right now as the baseball world waits for Samardzija to earn his first win. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his 1.62 ERA is the lowest by far for any pitcher without a victory through nine starts. The previous low was 2.38 held by the Oakland A's Rube Schauer in 1917. He started 0-9. Samardzija is 0-4 and the Cubs are 1-8 in games he's started. His winless streak actually is at 16 games with his last victory coming on Aug. 24.

The two runs of support he gets per game are the second lowest in baseball and the biggest contributing factor to his poor record.

"It would be nice to get him that win," teammate Edwin Jackson said recently.

It's become a topic in the Cubs' clubhouse. When pitcher Travis Wood received 17 runs of support in a recent win it prompted him to give Samardzija a hug and jokingly tell him he was "sorry."

The Cubs are on a season-high three-game winning streak heading into the series finale with the Yankees. They'll face rookie Chase Whitley, who is making his second career start.