4/27/2014 7:44 P.M. ET
Shark winless despite quality starts in each outing
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- This spring, Jeff Samardzija said his goal was to focus on going deeper into games rather than having another 200 strikeout season. The Cubs starter has done just that. Trouble is, he doesn't have any wins.
Samardzija has posted quality starts in his five outings so far, and gone at least seven innings in each. He lasted 7 1/3 innings in his last start on Wednesday against the D-backs.
He ranks sixth in the National League entering play Sunday with a 1.53 ERA, but is winless. He's the only NL starter with a sub 2.00 ERA who doesn't have at least one win. The Cubs were shut out in two of the games in which he started, and scored one run in another.
"He's pitching really good and should have a couple wins already," catcher Welington Castillo said of the Cubs' Opening Day starter. "We're not hitting really good and not getting a lot of runners and not scoring a lot of runs. I think he's doing all that he can control. He goes to the mound and does his job and focuses on what he can control.
"He's doing good, because he's doing what he's supposed to do," Castillo said. "He's giving us a chance. We just have to score a couple runs for him. I think he's been throwing the ball really good."
Last season, Samardzija reached 200 innings and 200 strikeouts for the first time in his young career. He's not as focused on the K's.
"The longer he goes in the game, we have a better chance [to win]," Castillo said. "He wants to compete, he wants to win. He wants the ball in every situation. He talked to me in Spring Training and said, 'I don't care about the strikeouts, I just want to go longer in games.' I think he's been doing really good. He's been throwing his fastball down in the zone and getting quick outs."
Renteria slots Kalish into leadoff spot Sunday
MILWAUKEE -- For the first time this season and 10th time in his career, Ryan Kalish was the leadoff man in the Cubs' 4-0 victory over the Brewers on Sunday.
"He has the ability and the history coming up as being a guy who can work the count," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Sunday about having Kalish lead off. "I thought it was an appropriate substitution."
Renteria wanted to give Emilio Bonifacio a day off and preferred keeping Junior Lake in the No. 2 spot, so Kalish got the assignment. Does it make a difference?
"The only difference is you see the first pitch of the game -- that's it," Kalish said. "It's all standard from there.
"I will say about the leadoff position is that being out there, it's important to have a good idea of the strike zone, especially early," he said. "I'm not saying you can't be aggressive early, because that's cool, too. You want to make sure you have control of the zone and show that we're going to do that today."
Kalish went 2-for-4 and stole a base in his ninth start for the Cubs. He's now reached safely in five of his last six games. He didn't spend too much time watching video of Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta.
"I'll watch a little video to see what pitches he has," Kalish said. "I know he throws a fastball, curve and change, which a lot of pitchers throw. I'm a firm believer in simpler is better. I'm not one to go study every count and what he throws. I'm excited for the challenge. The more pitches we face, the better."
Righty Arrieta slated to join Cubs Monday
MILWAUKEE -- Jake Arrieta, who made his fifth Minor League rehab start on Saturday, will join the Cubs in Cincinnati on Monday. When the right-hander returns to the rotation is still to be determined.
Arrieta was slowed this spring by tightness in his right shoulder. On Saturday, he threw 44 pitches over two innings for Double-A Tennessee, which was a short outing because it's the equivalent of the last Spring Training start for pitchers.
"Jake did a nice job yesterday," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "He worked through it healthy, and we'll see where he's at once we put our eyes on him."
Carlos Villanueva is 1-3 with a 10.19 ERA in four starts, and he is scheduled to pitch Wednesday in the series finale against the Reds. It's unlikely Arrieta would be activated and take Villanueva's spot, pitching on four days' rest, but Renteria said no decision would be made until he and pitching coach Chris Bosio get a chance to see the right-hander.
Acquired from the Orioles last July in the Scott Feldman deal, Arreita was 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts for the Cubs.
• Nate Schierholtz started in Sunday's 4-0 win against Milwaukee's Wily Peralta, even though the Cubs outfielder was 0-for-14 in his career against the pitcher. Schierholtz singled in his first at-bat in the second, and he finished 1-for-3 against the Brewers righty.
"He doesn't like being out of the lineup," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "I thought, let me give Nate another day. He's a pretty strong man and he's prepared on a daily basis to come out and perform. We wanted to give [Ryan] Sweeney a day and keep him off his feet a little bit. Schierholtz is a pretty resilient individual, and I think he'll work his way out of it."
Schierholtz is scuffling against right-handers, and entered Sunday's game 10-for-59 (.169) against righties.
• Arismendy Alcantara, ranked No. 6 among MLB.com's Top 20 Cubs Prospects , had five hits, including a triple, and three RBIs in Triple-A Iowa's 9-6, 13-inning win Saturday over Colorado Springs. Kris Bryant, ranked No. 2 on the Cubs' top 20 list, hit his fifth home run for Double-A Tennessee in a 4-3, 13-inning loss on Saturday.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.