It’s hard to call a pitcher that finishes with a 9-13 record an ace, but that’s exactly what Jeff Samardzija was for the Chicago Cubs in 2012 in his first season as a full-time starter, and 2013 promises to be exponentially better.
Samardzija led the team with a 3.81 ERA while striking out 180 batters in 174.2 innings. He has the arsenal to develop into one of the top 10 starters in baseball and will look to make a push for the 200-inning threshold this season after being shut down in early September last year.
With a better offense supporting him last season it’s not far-fetched to think that he would have been a candidate for 18 wins, however, that wasn’t the case last year as the Cubs had one of the worst offenses in Major League Baseball as they ranked 28th in runs scored.
I’m excited to see how much Samardzija develops in 2013 as he takes the next step in his development as a starter. He is fully capable of dominating every fifth day with his array of pitches and with Matt Garza and Scott Baker starting the season on the disabled list the 28-year old right hander will be counted on to be a leader of the staff.
I have no doubts about his ability to rise to the challenge and use the same mentality he had when he starred as a wide receiver at Notre Dame and be the ace of this team for the foreseeable future. Look for him and the team to restart discussions on a contract extension at some point during the season to lock him up for the prime of his career.
If Samardzija picks up where his 2012 season left off when he had a 2.58 ERA in the second half of season, then he’s going to garner a hefty payday. And the Cubs would love nothing more than to pay him for his performance.