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Entries in Jeff Samardzija (5)


The Cubs starters deserve a better fate

Entering action on April 24, whose starting pitching has been better this season, the Cubs or the Giants?

Let me ask you another question, entering action on April 24, whose starting pitching has been better this season, the Cubs, Marlins or Padres?

Let me answer both questions this way: The Cubs starting pitching deserve better

To answer the first question: the Cubs rotation has a 3.04 ERA, trailing only the Cardinals and Braves (mouse over the team icons to see the ERA and wins), but they only have three wins. The Giants starters have a 4.41 ERA and nine wins.

As for the second question:  the Cubs, Marlins and Padres starters all have just three wins, but the Cubs starters have a 3.04 ERA, the Marlins starters have a 4.20 ERA and the Padres starters have a 5.87 ERA. 

Carlos Villanueva, Travis Wood, and Jeff Samardzija are the guys to feel badly for 


Hard to believe that Carlos Marmol leads this team with two wins.

The Cubs starters deserve better, but when you combine a weak offense and shaky defense this is what you get.


Halladay says he is healthy after rough outing and more

"Roy Halladay insisted Tuesday that he is fine.

But is he really?

He struggled terribly in 2 2/3 innings at Bright House Field against a lineup featuring mostly Detroit Tigers reserves. He allowed six hits, seven runs, four walks, one wild pitch, two home runs and one hit batsman. He lacked tempo and command throughout the start. He also lacked velocity. One scout said his fastball hit just 86-88 mph on the radar gun. Other reports had gun readings clocking his fastball a mile or two less than that.

Halladay's velocity has dropped since his first two Grapefruit League starts, when he sat in the 89-91 mph range. It dropped into the 86-88 mph range in his third start before sitting in about the same area Tuesday.

Halladay appears to be going in the wrong direction with Opening Day just 20 days away.

"The good part is, there's no soreness," Halladay said. "Nothing hurts."

He blamed his troubling performance on lethargy. He said a completely revamped, more intense workout program, plus throwing two bullpen sessions in between starts, contributed to his lackluster performance.

"I think I've always been a lot harder on myself than any of you guys have ever been. I can promise you that," he said. "You also are aware of what's going on, and it's hard to explain sometimes how you're feeling, what you're working on, what you're going through, what you're trying to do. When you know in your head what's going on, it's a lot different."


Lawrie expects to be ready for season opener

"Brett Lawrie insists there’s no reason to worry.

Blue Jays fans, of course, will worry anyway.

The injured third baseman returned to the Jays spring training complex on Tuesday morning to see team doctors and training staff after participating in a non-active role with Team Canada at the World Baseball Classic until the Canadians were eliminated Sunday night."


Samardzija turns corner as opening day approaches

"Three weeks before he takes the mound on Opening Day in Pittsburgh, Jeff Samardzija moved closer to being ready for the Cubs' first game that counts.

While Samardzija's line -- 4 2/3 innings, 4 earned runs, 4 hits, 2 walks and 2 home runs allowed -- wasn't what he'll look for in 21 days, he was nevertheless encouraged by how he felt after ramping up the intensity for the first time this spring.

"I really thought today was a big turn for me, just how I felt, my pitch execution -- if I missed, I didn't miss by much," Samardzija said. "The adjustments I need to make are pretty simple, I feel like."


Patient appraoch with Ortiz is the right move

"I don't think it requires high levels of cynicism in the bloodstream to have heard the Red Sox' recent explanation for sore-heeled David Ortiz's scheduled five-to-seven-day hiatus and immediately mutter: ''Right. More like five to seven weeks."

I suppose any time the Red Sox' medical team concludes a diagnosis without alienating a player is a victory nowadays. But let's just say Monday's acknowledgement that Ortiz, who was limited to just 90 games last season after suffering a slight tear in his right Achilles' tendon, will probably begin the season on the disabled list hardly comes as a surprise."


Jeter to play shortstop Wednesday

"Derek Jeter says he will play at shortstop Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies.

It's the first time in the field for Jeter since ankle surgery last fall. Jeter says Tuesday after working out in Tampa that he'll "be out there" against the Phillies after two games as the designated hitter.

The game Wednesday also marks the spring training debut for Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte.

Jeter went 0 for 2 Monday in his second game at DH since breaking his left ankle in October. He had a single in two at-bats Saturday."


Joe Nathan still building arm strength

"Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan gave up back-to-back triples Monday, but the bigger development was the progress of his slider. After the two triples, which accounted for San Francisco’s second run in a 2-1 victory, he found the Giants committing to and chasing his slider. That led to three consecutive strikeouts.

Nathan said his arm strength is still lacking, but that it has come later during spring training in recent years. He compiled a 10.29 ERA in seven spring games last year and a 9.72 in 2011, his first year back from Tommy John surgery."


Nick Markakis out roughly two weeks

"The cause of Nick Markakis’ neck soreness is more severe than originally thought, but the Orioles hope that some rest will allow the team’s starting right fielder to return to spring training games in the next week or two.

A MRI on Monday revealed a small disk herniation — or slight tear — in the C4-C5 section (neck area) of Markakis’ spine, manager Buck Showalter said."



Samardzija's Splitter Key to Breakout

When the Cubs announced that Jeff Samardzija would shift from the bullpen to the starting rotation in 2012, the move looked like a noble experiment by a non-contender that nonetheless figured to fail. After all, the former Notre Dame wideout struggled to throw strikes while working almost exclusively as a reliever from 2008-2011, walking 5.3 batters per nine innings and posting a 95 ERA+. 'Pen arms just about always fare worse when stretched out and forced to face lineups multiple times, so even the most optimistic Bleacher Bum had to be skeptical about Samardzija's prospects for success.

But, like relief convert Ryan Dempster before him, Samardzija has made a swift transition to the rotation so far. The power righty has a 131 ERA+ in 43.2 innings, striking out over a batter per inning (9.3 K/9) while also paring his walk rate to 2.9 per nine. Samaradzija's high-octane fastball is still getting scorched -- opponents are batting .372 and slugging .526 against the pitch -- but his splitter has become one of the game's true swing-and-miss offerings.

Samardzija's split, typically thrown about nine mph slower than his near-95 mph fastball, has racked up 28 of his 45 strikeouts this season. He's throwing the split a near equal amount to lefties (18.2 percent of his pitches) and righties (17.6 percent), and he's burying it at hitters' knees. Only 31 percent of Samardzija's splitters have been thrown in the strike zone, yet they're so tantalizingly close to the plate that hitters practically have to go after them for fear of being called out on strikes:

Samardzija's splitter location, 2012

Batters have swung at 44 percent of Samardzija's borderline-but-out-of-the-zone splitters, above the 37 percent average for the pitch this season. And they're coming up empty on those outside cuts. Check out hitters' contact rate by location against Samardzija's splitter, and then the league average for splitters:

Opponent contact rate vs. Samardzija's splitter, 2012

Average contact rate vs. splitters, 2012

That's a lot of Cubbie blue for Samardzija. Hitters have missed 53 percent of the time they have swung against Samardzija's split this season, the best mark in the majors. The aforementioned Dempster is second on the list. With so many whiffs, Samardzija's splitter has limited batters to a .070 average and a .116 slugging percentage. He basically turns opponents into weak-hitting pitchers when he snaps off a splitter.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have a major rebuild on their hands in Chicago, but Samardzija's emergence potentially gives the club two power arms to build around when paired with Matt Garza. That's enough to keep the Bleacher Bums beaming for now.