Jeff Samardzija
Jeff Samardzija
34-Year-Old PitcherSP
San Francisco Giants
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Samardzija qualifies for the "last year's trash; this year's treasure" theory. Many were high on him coming into 2018 as his skills and FIP were trending in positive directions, but he spent most of the season on the disabled list with shoulder troubles. When he did pitch he was awful. He was unable to throw strikes (5.2 BB/9), could not miss bats (6.0 K/9) and continued to struggle with the long ball (1.21 HR/9). The shoulder is the engine for velocity, so his shoulder troubles easily explain the two-mph decline in his fastball velocity and why he was more hittable than usual. The shoulder troubles came on the heels of five consecutive 200-plus-inning seasons, but it is significant enough to worry about his durability moving forward. He could be a nice buy-low piece as he has two more seasons with the Giants, but watch the early spring training reports on the shoulder before moving him too high up your lists. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the Giants in December of 2015.
Season debut coming into focus
PSan Francisco Giants
March 21, 2019
Samardzija's first start of the season has "a very good chance" of being April 1, Kerry Crowley of The San Jose Mercury News reports.
That would set Samardzija up to debut at Dodger Stadium in the Giants' fifth game of the season. The right-hander made his longest start of the spring Thursday, throwing 5.1 innings and allowing two eared runs on seven hits and a walk. He struck out four.
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Pitching Stats
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2016
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2016vs Left .265 956 209 62 233 51 14 35
Since 2016vs Right .242 927 193 50 208 33 7 25
2018vs Left .301 87 15 12 22 4 0 4
2018vs Right .248 120 15 14 25 3 1 2
2017vs Left .252 454 115 22 107 21 9 19
2017vs Right .258 393 90 10 97 19 3 11
2016vs Left .272 415 79 28 104 26 5 12
2016vs Right .225 414 88 26 86 11 3 12
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2016
ERA at Home
ERA at Home
ERA at Home
ERA at Home
Since 2016Home 4.00 1.27 208.0 10 14 0 7.9 2.4 0.7
Since 2016Away 4.60 1.17 246.2 12 17 0 8.0 2.0 1.6
2018Home 5.92 1.64 24.1 0 2 0 5.5 4.4 0.4
2018Away 6.64 1.62 20.1 1 3 0 6.6 6.2 2.2
2017Home 3.97 1.16 95.1 5 6 0 8.4 1.7 0.8
2017Away 4.81 1.11 112.1 4 9 0 9.3 1.1 1.8
2016Home 3.53 1.28 89.1 5 6 0 8.1 2.6 0.7
2016Away 4.03 1.14 114.0 7 5 0 6.9 2.2 1.3
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Stat Review
How does Jeff Samardzija compare to other starting pitchers?
This section compares his stats with all starting pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 120 innings). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
92.3 mph
Strand %
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Defensive Stats
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Stats Vs Today's Lineup
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
The ERA doesn't paint a pretty picture, but Samardzija was much better in 2017 than that number would indicate. He struck out nearly a batter per inning while shaving his walk rate to just 1.4 BB/9, finishing 13th among qualified starters in K-BB percentage (20.4). He finished 79th in xwOBA among 280 major-league arms with at least 1,000 pitches thrown according to Statcast, ahead of guys like Justin Verlander, Masahiro Tanaka and Kyle Hendricks. Samardzija also exceeded 200 innings for the fifth consecutive year, but the future durability is now in question with the 33-year-old, as Samardzija went down with a pectoral strain in spring training and is expected to miss a month of the 2018 season. Home runs were an issue for Samardzija away from AT&T Park, and the Giants' offense is not a lock to provide consistent run support once Samardzija is healthy.
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’s first (and only) season for his childhood club didn’t go as well as expected. The White Sox traded for Samardzija to serve as the team’s No. 2 starter behind Chris Sale, but he ended up posting his worst season since becoming a full-time starter in 2012. His strikeout rate fell below 20 percent for the first time in his starting career while leading the American League with 29 home runs allowed. When the ball did stay in the park, he pitched in front of one of the league’s poorer defenses, which did him no favors. He may have also suffered from some mechanical issues, as his slider went from his out pitch to one that was very hittable. His status as a 200-inning hoss helped him land a five-year, $90 million deal with the Giants, and the move to a spacious park in San Francisco is big for his fantasy value given the uptick in flyballs a year ago.
The Shark joined the A's in July and continued a 2014 season that proved the best of his young career. Samardzija finished with a 2.99 ERA and 8.3 K/9 rate over 219.2 innings and made his first career All-Star Game. Due to an incredible lack of run support, especially during his time with the Cubs, Samardzija only ended up with seven wins on the season, but his ability to pitch deep into starts and strong peripherals (3.07 xFIP) should enable him to significantly improve that total this season. The biggest factor that led to his breakout season was a big cut in his walk rate from 3.3 BB/9 in 2013 to 1.8 BB/9 in 2014 (a mark that improved even further – to 1.0 BB/9 – with the A's). Samardzija will return to Chicago after an offseason trade to the White Sox, forming one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball alongside Chris Sale. His 46.2 percent career groundball rate bodes well for his chances of maintaining success in the hitter-friendly confines of U.S. Cellular Field.
Samardzija placed in the top five in the NL in both innings pitched (213.2) and strikeouts (214), so he did carry some fantasy value. However, that's where the positives end, as his ERA (4.34), WHIP (1.35), and wins (8) were all disappointing for a player who was expected to be one of the better starting pitchers in the league, especially after he appeared to break out in 2012. Usually a player with his strikeout rate isn't quite so hittable, and his .314 BABIP likely contributed to his results, but it also doesn't help a pitcher's fantasy value to be throwing for the woeful Cubs. He'll probably be atop the rotation again, but it could be another long season.
The hard-throwing righty finally harnessed his top-shelf stuff in 2012, and the result was a breakout. A 180:56 K:BB ratio in 174.1 innings is borderline elite, but the low innings total, average strand and BABIP rates and poor offensive support kept him in the second or third tier among pitchers. His 95 mph fastball and improving command could portend another step forward, but even if he simply locks in last year's gains, Samardzija will be plenty valuable, especially if the Cubs' lineup can generate more steady run support for him.
Samardzija came into 2011 as a wild thrower with a big arm, but made significant progress as the season wore on, with a 35:16 K:BB ratio in 36.1 second-half innings. Samardzija averaged 95 mph with his fastball last year and actually sat in the 96-98 range for most of the second half to go along with an improved slider. He's expressed interest in competing for a rotation slot this spring, but could easily land in a setup role, or even become the team's closer should Carlos Marmol be dealt or fail to right the ship.
Samardzija has a great arm, but simply lacks anything close to the command necessary for success at the major league level. In fact, he hasn't even pitched particularly well at Triple-A the last two years. He'll vie for a spot at the back end of the rotation with a cast of dozens, and failing that, could wind up in the bullpen in a low-leverage role. But it's more likely he begins the year at Triple-A.
The Cubs love Samardzija's arm - he's touched 99 mph on the radar gun - but so far he's looked nowhere near ready, allowing too many home runs both at Triple-A and the majors last year. Samardzija will compete with Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny and Jay Jackson for the fifth starter job, but we'd be surprised if he were to prevail unless he vastly improves command of his secondary pitches.
Samardzija was impressive for the first month after his late-July callup, making hitters miss with his blistering fastball (clocked as high as 99 mph) and occasional slider and changeup. But he struggled with his command down the stretch, and while his ERA was spared by some unearned runs, his 1.41 WHIP tells the tale. Samardzija is slated for a middle-relief role at press time, but there's some chance he returns to Triple-A to work on commanding his secondary pitches. If he does, the sky's the limit.
The former Notre Dame wide receiver, Samardzija's a hard thrower who Cubs' GM Jim Hendry is so high on, he declared him untouchable in trade talks along with last year's top pick Tyler Colvin, top prospect Felix Pie and pitching prospect Sean Gallagher. In truth, none of the four are can't-miss players, and Samardzija is probably the furthest from making a contribution to the big-league club. Samardzija struggled with his command at High-A last year, before being promoted to Double-A where he fared decently in a 34-inning sample. Expect him to start the season at Double-A in 2008 and don't be surprised if there are some growing pains at that level.
More Fantasy News
Fires three strong innings
PSan Francisco Giants
March 5, 2019
Samardzija tossed three scoreless innings while giving up one hit with two walks and four strikeouts in Monday's spring loss to the Dodgers.
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Sharp in spring debut
PSan Francisco Giants
February 27, 2019
Samardzija picked up the win Wednesday against the Royals, allowing one hit across two scoreless innings. He struck out two.
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Resumes throwing
PSan Francisco Giants
February 8, 2019
Samardzija (shoulder) has begun throwing bullpen sessions, Kerry Crowley of The San Jose Mercury News reports.
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Recovery going well
PSan Francisco Giants
January 14, 2019
President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Samardzija's (shoulder) recovery is going well, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports.
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Shifted to 60-day DL
PSan Francisco Giants
September 4, 2018
Samardzija (shoulder) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list Tuesday, Kerry Crowley of The San Jose Mercury News reports.
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