Yesterday the Chicago Cubs re-called right handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija is perhaps more renowned for his time spent playing wide receiver for Notre Dame than for his success on the baseball field.
Armed with a powerful sinking fastball, Samardzija made an impressive debut in 2008 with the Cubs. In 27.2 innings he struck out 25 and allowed just 24 hits while posting a 2.28 ERA. His numbers in the majors this year have been less impressive. In the exact same amount of innigs his ERA is 7.81 and he has struck out 17 batters and allowed 39 base hits (including five home runs).
HIs minor league track record indicates a potential concern for Cubs fans. Samardzija has a walk rate of 3.4 per nine innings and a rather low strikeout rate of 5.4 per nine throughout his minor league career. He has never posted a FIP below four in any single season (career best is 4.16) and his best strikeout-to-walk rate is 2.63 which he posted in Triple-A this season.
Although he has been used exclusively as a starter in the minor leagues he has only made one career start in the majors. He has relied heavily upon his fastball throwing it over two-thirds of the time (67.5 percent) at an average speed of 94 miles per hour. He is clearly still raw any anyone would expect with a former two-sport athlete. He has a major league arm but he must continue to develop his secondary offerings, particularly his change-up, and improve his command.
Samardzija may be best suited for the bullpen until he can harness his control. The 24-year old has significant work to do if he is to live up to that 5-year $10 million major league deal he signed back in 2006.