Two significant indicators of where the Cubs are headed and how fast played out as the Cubs opened their first road trip since the front office hit the restart button at the trade deadline.

With Jeff Samardzija officially assuming his top-of-the-rotation role against a Los Angeles Dodgers team with designs on a pennant, the Cubs pitcher with the best stuff —and best chance of returning a big haul in a trade — took another step toward returning to the mound for the first time in two weeks.

Matt Garza, whose elbow stiffness July 21 cost the Cubs a chance to take advantage of a big trade market last month, threw an abbreviated bullpen session Friday afternoon.