Samardzija (6-8, 4.71 ERA), who will make his team-leading 18th start on Wednesday in the Cubs' second game against the Marlins, said he is still learning which pitch early in the game is his most effective. He's discovered he may go into a game with a game plan, but then has to do some tweaking.
"The biggest adjustment for me is going start to start and how I feel and what I need to change," Samardzija said.
Entering Travis Wood's start on Tuesday, Cubs pitchers have posted a 1.23 ERA in the last five games, including a 1.13 ERA by the starters. It's up to Samardzija to keep up that pace.
"We're kind of riding each other now -- nobody wants to be the guy who lets off the gas and lets a team get up on us," Samardzija said. "We're having fun and having some competition."
The righty has totaled 101 innings so far, his highest total in the big leagues. The Cubs are monitoring his innings, but it isn't like the Nationals are doing with Stephen Strasburg, whom Washington officials say will be limited to 160 frames this year.
"I don't think we're going to put a number on it," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Just by the way we've set it up throughout the whole year, it's going to end up a relatively decent number. We're not going to sit there and say, 'He's got 70 pitches after five innings and that's it.' We won't do anything like that."