Blog Entry

Samardzija could start for Cubs in 2012

Posted on: September 12, 2011 6:40 pm

By Evan Brunell

Jeff Samardzija has struggled to settle in with the Cubs after being selected in the 2006 draft and passing up a career in football.

The righty has predominantly pitched out of the 'pen during his tenure with the Cubs despite coming up as (and campaigning to be) a starting pitcher. The last two years, though, the 26-year-old didn't show he would be a viable pitcher, let alone starter, in the majors. Spending much of the year in the minors, he posted a 7.83 ERA in 54 innings for the Cubs in stints across 2009-10. This season, though, he's turned things around by impressing out of the bullpen with a 3.12 ERA in 83 2/3 innings, including a 2.53 mark in the second half.

“He’s gotten really good the second half commanding his pitches, throwing a second pitch for a strike, with less pitches per inning, so his value is going up,’’ pitching coach Mark Riggins told the Chicago Sun-Times, ‘‘and it makes you think a little bit more for next year, could he throw six or seven innings and keep the pitch count [down]?"

The Cubs aren't going to rush to a decision, as offseason trades and free agency will influence who enters 2012 as part of the Cubs rotation, but having an internal candidate who could fill the breach is intriguing. With only Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells certain to be part of the rotation next season, there's a real chance for the former Notre Dame standout to contribute -- but you won't hear him agitating to do so.

‘‘I’ve probably approached it the wrong way over the past couple years in wanting to be a starter and being open about it,’’ Samardzija said, ‘‘but that’s been in my heart since I signed to come play baseball. What the future holds I don’t know. But I feel I have a lot to offer and even more to offer to the starting rotation.

‘‘I realized this year that I needed to prove that. I needed to prove to the coaching staff and this team that I deserve and earned a bigger role on this team.’’

Key to Samardzija's resurgence has been a reduced walk rate. After three months of allowing a walk rate well into the double-digits, Samardzija has been able to stay under that line the rest of the way. Key to the resurgence and improved command is being able to locate his fastball effectively, which has gone from being a liability in years past to a solid weapon to pair with his slider and split-fingered fastball, as well as an improved cutter.

“It would be very gratifying as a baseball player as a whole [to get a chance to start], because being one of those five guys is a very big, very important part of everything,’’ Samardzija added. “But I understood what they wanted to do with me this year .  .  . and it’s meant a lot to me to know my role and grow as a pitcher.

“I still feel like the ceiling’s still up there. I’ve got a lot left to go, and that’s exciting or me personally."

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 6:01 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 10:47 am
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Since: Mar 29, 2007
Posted on: September 12, 2011 9:00 pm

Samardzija could start for Cubs in 2012

Not sure you should put much stock in the opinion of a lame duk pitching coach. If Samardzija is a starter, lets find out in some other organization

Since: Nov 7, 2010
Posted on: September 12, 2011 7:56 pm

Samardzija could start for Cubs in 2012

better Cubs start think about it in the offseason he can try to develop secondary pitches that are the life of starters..hiiting 95mph is not enough..mentally starting and reliever is different..
i think the Cubs are just so desperate becuase they don't have prospects ready to jump in Mlb for the next 2 years..high payroll don't make them push for a top player..they are in bad position

Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: September 12, 2011 7:11 pm

Samardzija could start for Cubs in 2012

He was signed to be a relief pitcher...possibly the closer. But the Cubs feels that having him as a starter would be better. That might be true. But let me ask this very important question. How man long haired starting pitchers did well in 2011. Tim Lincecum and Jeff Weaver struggled mightily this year. Things got so bad that they couldn't hit the side of a barn or hit water if they fell out of a boat. Cut Jeff's hair and send him to the Yankees where he will do well. The Yankees know a thing or two about winning. The Cubs...not so much.

Since: Nov 15, 2008
Posted on: September 12, 2011 7:07 pm

Samardzija could start for Cubs in 2012

This is the typical Cubs.  What has he shown in the bigs?  When teams sign pitchers out of college they hope to have them up in the majors by 5 years or less I'm sure.  Jeff Samardzija signed a 10 million 5 year deal in 2007 when do you think he will be ready?  Talk about overpriced prospect.  The only reason he got that money is cause he was a golden domer.  He would have fetched an NFL contract and would not have been allowed 5 years to develop as a receiver.  So the article title should read, "Was Samardzija worth 10 million dollars as a prospect.

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