The Chicago Cubs have watched Jeff Samardzija develop as a pitcher over the last six seasons in a variety of pitching roles. I believe it is truly time for the Cubs management to put Samardzija where he belongs: back in the bullpen.
Samardzija has spent the last two seasons as a full-time starter in the Cubs’ rotation. In 2012, he posted a respectable 3.81 ERA with a 9-13 record that would have been better had he not played for the Cubs. Alas, Samardzija has regressed in 2013 with a similar 8-12 record but his ERA rose to 4.42 including a seven inning, three earned run no decision Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers. Samardzija has only managed to allow one or less earned runs in eight of his 31 starts which is clear proof that he is not dominating games on a consistent basis.
If you believe in patterns – and I do – Samardzija is on pace to have an ERA in the low 5.00s in 2014. The Cubs really need to send the 6-5 righty to the bullpen where he has been most effective in his major league career.
Back in 2011 before Samardzija became a reliever, he had his best year while pitching out of the pen and making 75 appearances. During that time, he recorded an ERA of 2.97 and a decent WHIP of 1.295. As a reliever that year, Samardzija recorded 87 strikeouts in 88 innings pitched, holding batters at bay efficiently.
In his entire MLB career, Samardzija’s ERA as a starter is 4.37 and is only 3.84 as a reliever. While Samardzija does manage to strikeout more batters per every nine innings as a starter than as a reliever (8.9 versus 7.9), the difference is not all that much different.
Samardzija has truly been a more effective pitching coming out of the pen and needs to return there to be the most productive pitcher possible for the Cubs. Unfortunately for both Samardzija and the Cubs, the team needs him most in the starting rotation and he likely will continue to remain in that role. Here’s to mediocrity!
Please leave a comment below letting me know what you think about Samardzija and whether or not you think he would be a better reliever than starter. Thanks for reading!