Updated: September 11, 2013 11:00PM
CINCINNATI — The Cubs’ foundation for sustained pitching success didn’t look too great Wednesday, and that’s been a trend for Jeff Samardzija much of the second half, his last three starts in particular.
“Obviously, I hold myself to a high standard, so these last three games I’ve had are not acceptable, and I’m obviously frustrated about it,” Samardzija said after needing 114 pitches to get through 52/3 innings in a 6-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Samardzija (8-12, 4.44 ERA) and manager Dale Sveum said the big right-hander pitched OK, except for the sliders he hung for homers to Devin Mesoraco in the fourth and pinch hitter Jack Hannahan in the sixth, a three-run shot on his 110th pitch.
But numbers such as the early-inning pitch counts and the second-half earned runs don’t lie.
As Samardzija finishes his first full season in the rotation in “uncharted waters” for innings and starts, his stamina looks questionable and his role as a front-line starter looks uncertain.
“I feel good. I don’t think that has anything to do with it right now,” he said of career highs of 30 starts and 1942/3 innings — and a National League-high 3,163 pitches. “It’s uncharted waters, but I feel good. I have no complaints, no excuses.”
Samardzija has eight starts this season in which he’s allowed at least five runs, including his last three, and a 6.39 ERA since the end of July. He has three starts left.
“He probably won’t admit it,” Sveum said, “but I’d probably go out on a limb saying there’s a combination of [physical fatigue] and getting a little mentally wore out right now.”
With Scott Baker getting two more starts, Samardzija will get an extra day of rest before each of his next two turns, which should help, Sveum said.
“The grind of the whole season and knowing you’re not getting shut down and knowing there’s four more, five more, six more starts — I don’t care who you are, the body starts wearing down when you’ve never been there before,” Sveum said.
“Take what you can, learn from it and move on,” Samardzija said.