Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/17/14
There isn't too much to be excited about for the 2013 Chicago Cubs. That's kind of what you expect after a team that lost over 100 games in 2012. But let's pretend for a second that the Cubs are actually going to make some noise in 2013. Seriously, really use your imagination. If the Cubs are going to make a real run at a playoff spot, one player is going to have to come through in a big way. That player is Jeff Samardzija and he's the x-factor for the 2013 Chicago Cubs. What Samardzija does in 2013 is going to say a lot about the Cubs and where they go as a franchise beyond this season. There's no doubt he was fantastic last year, but that success needs to carry on over into this season. Everyone laughed when Samardzija declared his goal to be a part of the rotation last season. After a career year as a reliever, most figured he'd be better suited for a role as a future closer type, and not as a guy going six or seven innings. We were all wrong. Samardzija pitched to a 3.81 ERA and 180 strikeouts in about 174 innings. Even better, Shark managed to keep his walks down, which had been an issue for him over the course of his career, whether he was starting games or coming out of the bullpen. He comes into the new season as the ace of the Chicago Cubs' staff. He has the stuff to be an actual ace. Whether or not he can actually become one remains to be seen. If he can, it gives the Cubs a dominant arm at the top of their rotation without a ton of mileage on it. That'd be a huge step for this franchise, if he can establish himself. On the flip side, if Samardzija comes out and struggles, the Cubs would still lack that impact arm at the top of the rotation. Which would require them to either sell some talent to acquire said impact arms, or wait for others in the system to develop. And there aren't a whole lot of options. This is a huge season for Jeff Samardzija. If he comes out and builds on his 2012 campaign, he not only earns a new contract, but becomes a tremendous asset for the Cubs, and a piece to build around. They lack that in their pitching staff right now. Such a season from Samardzija would indicate a giant step for this franchise as they attempt to get back into the postseason within the next couple of  years.Cubs on TOC Cubs on TOC End of Season Postmortem Hope for the Hopeless 2013 Season Preview You May Say I'm a Dreamer 2013 Burning Question (12:45 PM) This Is My Nightmare (2:00 PM) 2013 X-Factor [follow]
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NFL explains how Super Bowl balls will be prepped

Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao close to deal for fight

TJ Lang: Suh wanted to fight me after stepping on Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Hernandez jurors allowed to watch Super Bowl

Tiger misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’


Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate during presser

Rex Ryan: Seahawks need to ‘take the air out of the football’

J.J. Watt buys cabin in the middle of nowhere to train

Six teams have done background work on Peterson

NBA set to earn $700M through streaming deal in China

Wade Phillips is the best coordinator hire this offseason

WATCH: Serena Williams loses point for yelling "come on!"

Report: Missy Elliott joining Katy Perry for halftime show

WATCH: Jimmy Butler throws down half-court alley-oop

President Obama zings Patriots over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's Player Of The Year candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots-Seahawks

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Most unexpected MLB free agent signings of past 10 years

Five most villainous Super Bowls of all time

Super Bowl ad focuses on acceptance of gay athletes

Foster says UT boosters paid him $40-50K while in college

Ranking the repeat Super Bowl champions

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Missy Elliott to join Katy Perry at SB?

Obama zings Pats over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's POY candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots vs. Seahawks

The 13 things we want to see in Super Bowl XLIX

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Tiger Woods, misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Ranking the repeat SB champions

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate

Katy Perry, Russell Wilson dating?

Rex Ryan has advice for Seahawks

Super Bowl: Things you can't control

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.