Jeff Samardzija: The Newest “Pirates Killer?”
By Drew Brown
Over past seasons there have been certain players who stand out when it comes to their success against the Pittsburgh Pirates: Albert Pujols posted better numbers against the Pirates than any other team in the league, and guys like Ryan Braun, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Hunter Pence, and Allen Craig have also been known to destroy the Pirates.
There aren’t many pitchers you can exactly throw onto that list. Maybe Yovanni Gallardo or Matt Cain, but I can’t think of any pitchers who exactly stick out.
Is Chicago Cubs starting pitcher, Jeff Samardzija, the newest one to add to that list? I’d say so. Rum Bunter’s own Campbell Sproul posted this article the day before Opening Day, letting everyone know that Samardzija would be a tough task for the Pirates in the home opener.
I tip my cap to you, Campbell, because you were completely right. We all saw what Samardzija did against the Pirates yesterday when he pitched eight innings of two-hit ball, while striking out nine. The crazy thing is, that isn’t even the best start of his career against the Pirates.
Samardzija only has three career starts against the Pirates, and has been dominant in all three. His most notable one came last July while the Pirates were in the middle of their offensive explosion. They were on a five game win streak and right around the top of the National League Central. Samardzija rolled into PNC Park and threw eight innings of one-hit ball, and put the fire out on the Pirates mini winning streak.
Having been in attendance at that game, I can remember hearing fans around me saying things like “Who is this guy?” and “ I’ve never even heard of him.”
Well, hopefully those fans get to know who Samardzija is, because he’s going to be around for a the next several years. He’s 28 years old and is the ace of our rival, the Chicago Cubs. He was a reliever for the first four years of his career before the Cubs realized that making him a starting pitcher would be best for the team.
As a middle inning reliever, he wasn’t anything special. He bounced back and forth between the Cubs and the minor leagues. Now, he could be one of the most underrated pitchers in the league. No one is going to get much credit while playing for the Chicago Cubs, but Samardzija could be an exception.
I know I might be talking way too highly of a guy that went 9-13 last season, but he did put up 2.5 WARP with a 3.59 FIP. I’m just warning fans to watch out for him. In his three career starts against the Pirates, Samardzija has pitched a complete game once, and eight innings the other two. He’s only allowed seven combined hits and two combined earned runs in those three outings.
The Cubs shut him down in early September last season to make sure he didn’t throw out his arm, but he should be good to go this season.
The Cubbies don’t have much going for them, but Samardzija is definitely a bright spot on their team. I’d like to not get started on Anthony Rizzo, but I’m pretty convinced he’ll eventually earn his title as a “Pirate Killer.”
With only one game in the books this season, Samardzija will probably start three or four more games against the Pirates in 2013, and hopefully the Bucs can make me look idiotic and knock him around in a few of those outings.