(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Cubs have pulled off the first big trade of the 2014 season and it has ramification on today's starting pitcher for their game against the Washington Nationals.
Jeff Samardzija and eight-game winner Jason Hammel were dealt to Oakland for minor-league shortstop Addison Russell, minor-league outfielder Billy McKinney, pitcher Dan Straily and a player to be named later. The deal is expected to become official today.
Samardzija, who was slated to start today, has pitched well for the Cubs this season, but has been a victim of poor run support. The right-hander owns a 2-7 record with a 2.83 ERA and 103 strikeouts over 108 innings pitched. Chicago has been shutout five times over his 17 starts this season and it has scored two runs or less in 11 of those outings.
Instead, the Cubs will turn to righty Carlos Villanueva, who has pitched primarily out of the bullpen this season, going 4-5 with a 4.91 ERA. Villanueva, though, has made four starts and is 1-3 in those contests with a lofty 9.68 ERA.
The Cubs are trying to win six in a row on the road for the first time since Sept. 13-28, 2010 when they won eight straight outside Wrigley Field. The Cubs have won seven of their last eight road games dating to June 15. They are 19-26 on the road this season.
Gio Gonzalez, who pitched seven shutout innings in the opener of the doubleheader last Saturday to pick up the win, counters for the Nationals. The left-hander is trying to win three consecutive starts for the first time since this season. He is 0-1 over his last three home starts and hasn't won at Nationals Park since April 18 against St. Louis.
Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 3.03 ERA in five career games versus the Cubs.
Yesterday, Justin Ruggiano homered among his three hits and knocked in two runs to back a solid Jason Hammel, as the Cubs stayed hot on the road by beating the Nationals 7-2. Chris Coghlan had two hits and scored three runs for the Cubs, who have won five consecutive road games for the first time since July 31-Aug. 4, 2011.
"We're just going out and playing hard," Ruggiano said. "To me what's encouraging is it doesn't matter if we put up five runs in the second or third inning. We still want more."
Hammel (8-5) allowed two runs on five hits, walked two and struck out seven in six-plus innings.
He improved to 8-0 in 10 career starts against the Nationals.
"He's been tough on us. He's been tough on everybody, but especially us," Washington manager Matt Williams said about Hammel.
Luckily for the Nationals, they won't see Hammel for the rest of the season since he's switching to the American League.
Jayson Werth finished 2-for-3 with a home run and a walk for Washington, which had its season-best winning streak snapped at five games.
Tanner Roark (7-6), who had a 1.59 ERA in his eight previous home starts this season, surrendered four runs on nine hits over seven frames to absorb the loss.
The Cubs lead the season series, 3-2.