Nearly any way you slice it, Jeff Samardzija’s story is one of repeatedly proving the doubters wrong. The right-hander has gone from hyped prospect—more due to name recognition than his performance on the field—to disappointment, to nearly being released, to having a strong season out of the ‘pen, to succeeding and sticking as a starter, to eventually emerging as one of the better ones in the game last summer. Every step of the way, there were few who believed he'd find his footing, and every step of the way, Samardzija added more believers. After spending his entire career with the Chicago Cubs organization, Samardzija found himself traded for the second time in the span of a few months this offseason, returning to Chicago, this time on the South Side.
Acquiring the former Notre Dame football star was supposed to give the White Sox quite the imposing front of the rotation, with Samardzija slotting in nicely between perennial Cy Young candidate Chris Sale, and Jose Quintana, who has his own surprising success story to tell. But seven starts into his Sox career, Samardzija has not been close to what most expected: A 4.80 ERA, 4.27 DRA, 102 cFIP (the latter two indicate he’s not just getting bad lucked), with a couple of career-worsts as a starter: a 17.7 percent strikeout rate and 35.1 percent groundball rate.
Deciding between the new South Sider and the new Padre.
For this week’s Tale of the Tape, we have two pitchers who were among the biggest acquisitions for a couple of the most active teams this winter. Jeff Samardzija joins a White Sox rotation that now has one of the better one-two punches in the game with him and Chris Sale. James Shields joins a Padres team that made a trade approximately every ten minutes this offseason. They placed 19th and 20th, respectively, in our rankings and will be a couple of the most intriguing pitchers in the league in 2015.
Scouts' quotes about Jeff Samardzija, Maikel Franco, Michael Lorenzen, and other players of interest.
Many of our authors make a habit of speaking to scouts and other talent evaluators in order to bring you the best baseball information available. Not all of the tidbits gleaned from those conversations make it into our articles, but we don't want them to go to waste. Instead, we'll be collecting them in a regular feature called "What Scouts Are Saying," which will be open to participation from the entire BP staff and include quotes about minor leaguers and major leaguers alike.
These five starters saw a lot of the balls hit against them land for hits, but was it bad luck or a sign of things to come?
A lot of the time, batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is used as a shorthand for luck, and while that can be the case, it’s not necessarily the case. Today I’m going to look at the top five BABIP pitchers in the National League with a minimum of 150 innings pitched to see what, if anything, connects them, and if that means there is hidden value in these players.
Rick Renteria's lineup has a few intriguing bats, but you'll probably have to look elsewhere for pitching.
Last year was yet another tough one for Cubs fans, even if the Epstein/Hoyer/McLeod-led front office continues to stockpile assets. The win-loss record is a nagging source of frustration for the fans, and the on-field lineup might just be as frustrating for fantasy owners. With the potential to sport a platoon in the outfield and a defensive specialist in the infield, as well as a patient front office that will keep its drool-worthy prospects at bay, this Cubs tree isn’t likely to bear much fruit in the early going.
Do pitchers target a tough opponent's weakness, or stick with their own strength?
Every hitter has a hole. Barry Bonds, during spring training, had given an interview with ESPN in which he as much as said, "if you make your pitch, you can get me out." The issue wasn't whether a hitter had a weakness, but where it was. Every pitcher in the big leagues knew that Giambi's hole was waist-high, on the inside corner of the plate. It was about the size of a pint of milk, two baseballs in height and one baseball in width. Which raised an obvious question: why don't the pitchers just aim for the milk pint? — Moneyball, Chapter 7, "Giambi's Hole."
There seem to actually be two points in that paragraph, and they contradict each other. "Every pitcher in the big leagues" was saying that Giambi had a weakness, and that if you could throw him kryptonite it would get him out. But Bonds seemed to be saying something else: "If you make your pitch, you can get me out." Your pitch.
Jose Fernandez put a damper on the Dodgers on Monday, but their recent performance is still historic.
The Monday Takeaway
When the Dodgers took the field last night, they did so nearly two months removed from their last string of consecutive defeats. They had logged seven separate winning streaks of four games or longer since their last losing streak. And over that 53-game span, they were 42-11.
Matched up against fellow first-year starter Hyun-jin Ryu, Jose Fernandez set out to do what the likes of Matt Cain, Cliff Lee, and Stephen Strasburg could not: prevent the Dodgers from rebounding immediately from a rare loss. The young right-hander needed 109 pitches to complete six innings, but he held Don Mattingly’s club to two runs (one earned) on four hits and three walks, striking out eight along the way. With help from A.J. Ramos, Chad Qualls, and Steve Cishek, Fernandez came out on top in the “ace-off” and dealt the Dodgers their first two-plus-game skid since June 20-21.