Jeff Samardzija Is Treating His Bat Poorly, But At Least He's Pitching Great
Hey, guys, let's all do our best not to make Jeff Samardzija mad, because I don't think you'd like Jeff Samardzija when he's mad.
On Tuesday night against the Reds in Cincinnati, Samardzija had a little trouble at the plate. This is nothing unusual, as Samardzija is a career .137/.168/.209 hitter, although he does have two home runs and seven doubles on his resume.
Maybe he was expecting another dinger, because after striking out on a ball in the dirt, the former Notre Dame football standout treated his bat like it was a very large toothpick.
Yeah, that may be a pitcher at the plate, but that's a 6'5'' pitcher who weighs 225 pounds and could have played in the NFL if he had wanted to. But how does Samardzija's lumber splintering compare to past instances of destructive frustration at the dish?
Samardzija's act of wanton destruction overshadowed his terrific outing against the Reds, going 8 innings and striking out 9 in the Giants' 3-1 win. He's now 4-1 on the season with a 3.32 ERA and a 3.50 fielding independent pitching (FIP).
Coming into the season, I wasn't so sure about Samardzija, and I wasn't alone. After all, he was generally lousy last season, giving up more hits and more runs than any other starter in baseball, and his 6.86 batters per nine innings continued a four-year trend in which his K/9 dropped every year.
With all those innings on his arm and a decreasing K-rate, I saw problems coming for "The Shark" in his first season with Giants after signing a five-year, $90 million deal.
But based on the early returns this year, I was wrong. He's increased his strikeouts per nine to 7.75. His velocity is down a bit, from 94.2 mph to 93.9 mph, but it's not a huge drop. And pitching in pitcher-friendly San Francisco has certainly helped.
Last year he gave up 1.22 home runs per nine innings (HR/9), but this year it's dropped to 0.89 HR/9. More importantly, opponents are hitting a scant .225 against him this year, down from .269 a year ago. And his 1.13 WHIP is also lower than last year's 1.29.
The Giants have gotten good value for their money, something that wasn't a sure thing when the season started.
I just hope my "bold prediction" didn't get Jeff Samardzija mad at me. I like my legs in one piece.