SAN FRANCISCO — Except for Jeff Samardzija, the Cubs could be looking at an All-Star Game shutout. Even that comes with the qualifier that no one knows where the longest-tenured player on the team will be pitching by July 15.
Not one Cub showed up on Wednesday when Major League Baseball released an update on the National League All-Star ballot. Of course, the Cubs also had the lowest winning percentage (.380) in the majors, and the fans have been staying away from Wrigley Field.
But at least Samardzija (1-4, 1.68 ERA) wouldn’t be a token selection because every team is supposed to have a representative at Minnesota’s Target Field.
“He’s pitched like an All Star,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said at AT&T Park. “We always have to look at everything in context. The way he’s been pitching, certainly, he deserves a nod (and) a sincere consideration based on his performance.
“I will certainly lobby for that.”
St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright leads the majors with a 1.67 ERA and already has eight wins. It’s been a downward spiral since Samardzija’s rookie year in 2008, when the Cubs had eight All Stars for the Yankee Stadium showcase and won 97 games.
Since then, the Cubs got Ted Lilly on the 2009 All-Star team — and traded the lefty to the Los Angeles Dodgers the following summer. Marlon Byrd became an All-Star in 2010 and got busted for PEDs two years later. Starlin Castro made it in 2011 and 2012, when Bryan LaHair went along for the ride, at a time when Anthony Rizzo was phasing out the first baseman (who played last season in Japan). Travis Wood didn’t pitch in last year’s All-Star Game.
MLB’s ballot update only listed the top five vote-getters at each position. Maybe Rizzo (.832 OPS) and Castro (.277 average) will be in the conversation in the future. Another trade candidate from the Cubs rotation — Jason Hammel (5-3, 3.08 ERA) — has pitched above and beyond expectations.
“We have a couple guys, actually, that have stepped it up,” Renteria said. “Rizz is showing that he’s continued to improve his game. Starlin, obviously, has done a nice job. We have Hammel. We have some guys that have been going after it and doing a nice job for us all season. But I think certainly Jeff, with the way he’s been pitching, (deserves it).”