How much of Jeff Samardzija's season was real?
More than you'd think. Detractors point to his control and workload to foretell a 2013 drop-off. Both are fair concerns, especially given his spotty history as a starter.
But just like he did in his career as a Notre Dame wideout, he started catching on after a few years. During his rotation transition, he learned to pitch efficiently: That 2012 figure of 15.84 tosses per stanza, while not outstanding, showed his budding comprehension of how to attack hitters. (Note that 60.2 first-strike percentage, a catalyst for inducing hitters to chase at a 34.2 percent pace.)
It's not as if he needed to learn a new pitch; the vet - yes, he qualifies - already deploys four with regularity (including his slider and newly honed, game-changing sinking heat), and he keeps as many as six ready depending on the situation. His average four-seam velocity and opponents' swinging-strike rate (a gaudy 12.1) remained dominant even while he took on more innings.
Sure, the soon-to-be 28-year-old will probably tire a bit after his big IP jump by walking a few more batters; he was textbook efficient in his plate workings, after all. But Chicago managed his innings effectively down the stretch and shut him down early to minimize the degree of downturn. And, of course, he plays in the Senior Circuit.
Play into your opponents' doubts and swipe him as a third mixed arm, which should still make the former Fighting Irish receiver a golden haul.
Who will close?
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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