Jeff Samardzija was just about what the Giants could have hoped for when they signed the starter last offseason. His 3.81 ERA, 7.39 K/9, 2.39 BB/9 and 1.06 HR/9 over 203.1 innings were serviceable marks for both real and fantasy purposes. His velocity was exactly where it was at in 2015, but the home ballpark change and vastly improved defense behind him helped reduce his ERA by more than a run. The Shark also mixed in a curveball -- a pitch he abandoned after the 2012 season -- to keep hitters from sitting on his hard stuff. The addition of Matt Moore at the trade deadline will likely push Samardzija into the fourth slot in the rotation, giving him a slightly increased win probability next season. Other than that, it would be safe to expect similar results in 2017, making him a reliable middle-of-the-rotation fantasy starter.
Samardzija threw four scoreless innings Friday, striking out three and walking none in a win over the Rockies. The veteran righty bounced back in a nice way after allowing six runs in his last start. His 8.22 Cactus League ERA looks ugly on paper, but it won't affect his status as the Giants' fourth starter this season. Samardzija has also been working on his split-finger fastball this spring, which could help explain the poor results. He will look to repeat last year's sub-four ERA over 200-plus innings in his second season with San Francisco.
Samardzija received an invite to join the United States as an alternate in the World Baseball Classic. The right-hander seems willing to join his countrymen in action at the WBC, but he also understands that the decision may not ultimately be his, stating, "When you play for another team and you're committed to them for a long-term stretch it's a little out of your hands." If he attends, "Shark" will join teammates Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey, plus possibly new teammate Mark Melancon, who was also extended an alternate invitation. Wherever Samardzija ends up finishing his spring campaign, one thing is for sure: He will begin the regular season as the Giants' fourth starter.
Samardzija said that his bounce-back campaign last year can be attributed to rediscovering his splitter. He will work on honing the pitch this spring, CSN Bay Area reports. While his entire 2016 season should be considered a bounce-back (3.81 ERA) after posting an ERA north of five in 2015, Samardzija was referencing the tail end of his season when he talks about finding his split-finger fastball. Earlier in the year, the hard-throwing righty was relying on his cutter as his go-to secondary pitch, with mixed results. Incorporating a curveball had some success at certain points of the year, but it was the splitter that provided the best results for Samardzija. He threw 113 splitters in September after throwing just 35 combined splitters over the first five months of the season. The results were notable for the Shark, posting a 2.95 ERA with a 4.2 K/BB ratio in the final month of the season. Samardzija said that he will be working on honing his splitter throughout the Cactus League, so -- as with all veteran pitchers who have their rotation spot locked down -- take his spring training stats with a grain of salt.
Samardzija has been named the fourth starter in manager Bruce Bochy's spring training rotation and he should occupy that spot on Opening Day as well, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. No surprises here, as the top four of San Francisco's rotation had been known heading into spring training, it was simply a matter of what order they would be slotted in. Samardzija had a bit of a rocky ride in the first year of his five-year contract, but the end results were solid (3.81 ERA) and were a huge step in the right direction after his abysmal 2015. He will be one of the better fourth starters on paper and should get some favorable matchups early in the year when fourth starters face off against other fourth starters, giving him a higher potential for wins compared to other pitchers in his tier.
Samardzija (12-11) whiffed a season-high 11 while allowing just two runs on seven hits and a walk Wednesday against the Rockies, but suffered the loss. His regular season thus ends with a 3.81 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, with two excellent months rounding out the year after a period of midseason struggles. Wednesday was the only double-digit-strikeout game of the year for Samardzija, who was a pretty consistent whiff-per-inning guy up until last season. Still, this rates as a bounce-back campaign for the veteran righty, who showed his trademark endurance while shaving more than a full point off last season's brutal 4.96 ERA.