Samardzija Dominates

Jeff Samardzija’s dominant outing Sunday was definitely unexpected. Samardzija ended his first start of the season with an impressive line (one earned run on four hits without a walk and eight strikeouts in 8.2 innings). Really if everything bounces the right way, any pitcher can end an outing with giving up only four hits but it was the eight strikeouts without a walk that helped make Samardzija’s outing even more impressive.

Jeff Samardzija was just short of unhittable and he did something Sunday that he has been reluctant to do over the course of his career … pitch ahead in the count.

Samardzija jumped out ahead of hitters 80 percent of the time – far and beyond the league average … and that allowed him to keep Nationals’ hitters off-balance Sunday.

Take a close look at this graph, which examines the sequence of pitches in each at bat:

It’s hard to see what’s what within the strike zone, but look outside the strike zone. There really aren’t many “1’s” are there? Samardzija didn’t register an 80% first-strike percentage with a team full of free-swingers, but rather with command and control.

Samardzija sat in the mid-90’s with his fastball that bore in on hitters’ hands or ran straight. His two-seam had four more inches of break to right-handed hitters than his fastball, while maintaining the same velocity.

He also varied his velocity, throwing several fastballs at once, then changed his speeds from pitch to pitch as seen here:

Obviously, this is one game, so to say that Jeff Samardzija has definitively changed as a pitcher is a stretch. While his one outing has been described as dominant, if Samardzija can continue to throw first-pitch strikes, miss bats and limit walks, Sunday’s performance could be the beginning of a successful career for Jeff Samardzija as a starting pitcher.

PitchFX graphs generated at Brooks Baseball

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein