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

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  • Ripsnorter1

    Samardzija’s hard work has paid off. This is very, very impressive.

    Red Sox and Cubs have the same record…..1-3.
    Zito throws a shutout! SF thinks they have solved his problems with a tweak of his windup, and a personal catcher. NO…it is not Koyie Hill! First shutout in NINE YEARS!   How much does he cost?

    Marwin Gonzalez was 3 for 4 with 2 doubles last night. That’s impressive.I fear the Cubs are destroying Lendy Castillo by keeping him on the ML roster. It all reminds me of David Patton…now out of baseball. He’s got talent, but it is very raw. He needs MiL time and experience.  

    Isn’t Manny Corpas better than Shawn Camp? And if not, what is he doing taking up a roster spot in Iowa?

    • Tony_Hall

      Corpas had a rough outing last night, and Esmailin Caridad came in and looked good throwing 93-94 and getting out of the jam.

      Camp won’t be around long….obviously.

    • John_CC

       Doesn’t Lendy have to stay on the ML roster or be “given back”? 

      • Tony_Hall

        Yes he does, unless a trade is worked out.  

  • Bryan

    So 1-3, and at least the starting pitching is looking encouraging.  Unfortunately, based on the current financial mentality of baseball we won’t be seeing our two main prospects for two more months, and by that point you can chalk up the season.  The Cubs just need to jetison Byrd and Soriano (and you can add Soto as well) and provide the fan base with a lineup of:

    Castro  SS
    Jackson LF
    LaHair   RF
    Rizzo    1B
    Clavenger  C
    Stewart   3B
    Barney 2B
    Campana  CF

    And how amazing is it that with all the youngsters in our farm system, as well as all the additional youngsters playing college and high school ball that we can’t round out a bullpen that can be effective.  The pen is what, 6 guys….and throughout the U.S. (and the world for that matter), we can’t find consistent great arms to develop.  Just seems totally odd!

    • Tony_Hall

      5 lefties in a row…at least our RH bench would make more sense.

      Castillo would be the starter more often then Clevenger.

      I also believe Lahair would take over LF and BJAX would be in RF, if Campana was in CF, but most likely BJAX will be the CF.  

      But, they are not going to just cut those players, so they will be, most likely, June before we see any action on trades.

      • paulcatanese

        Agree Tony, and the advancement of both Castillo and Clevenger could replace Soto without any loss.I like both of them.

      • cubs1967

        nothing happens in June; way too many people think its a given in june to avoid super 2 arb (if they qualify); but the trade deadline is end of July……so I don’t see bjax or rizzo till then and only if .071 marlon gets traded……..

        • Tony_Hall

          You do understand it is the trade deadline.  Trades can be made anytime before than, without the player having to pass through waivers.  Teams sometimes want to make deals sooner, to get more games out of their addition.   

          As far as Super 2, June is usually safe, if they weren’t a September call-up.

    • Zonk

      Understand you want to go young, but just cutting Byrd and Soriano would be foolish. 

      Younger doesn’t always mean better.  There is alot of man-love here for Campana, but he is a major league bench player at best.  That’s not really building for the future.

      Byrd still has value.  Why would we cut a player, when we might find a team willing to, at least, pay part or all of his salary?

      • Bryan

        Zonk…thanks for your additional post, and perspective.  I used the word “jetison” v. “cut”, though candidly I don’t care whether they cut these two guys or not.  If you can get something for either, great.  If not, cut your losses, and move on with the youth initiative.  And apologies, but I’m failing to see the value of Byrd currently.  Others here have well documented his skills deterioration.  Perhaps last years beaning has had an effect.  Regardless, he’s blocking a high potential moving up, while at the same time not providing a positive impact to the current roster.  And nobody’s going to want to pay a heathly portion of his salary.  Other clubs see what we (as fans) see. 

      • Aaron

         I think Bryan’s somewhat right here…you either “jettison” or “cut”…obviously not cut right now, but in May, if they’re far out of it, then you outright cut them if you can’t find a trade partner.

        Byrd looks completely lost at the plate, and despite Soriano’s current .300’s avg, we all know the type of player he is….which is more like last year’s .250-ish avg, and around a .300 OBP, which, no matter how many home runs he hits, just isn’t going to cut it.

        The question they will eventually ask themselves is:
        “Is it better to lose with these guys, and delay the clocks of Rizzo and Jackson? Or, is it better to cut ties with them, and let them get their feet wet in an otherwise lost season?”

      • cc002600

         Zonk…..I have to disagree with you on Byrd.
        I think you will be lucky to get a bag of balls for him.

        He’s average defensively, very litttle power, doesn’t steal bases, doesn’t hit for high average, and swings at everything.  The only redeeming trait that he has is the intangibles as far as attitude and hustle.  But outside of that, he really gives you VERY little.. And oh, he ain’t no spring chicken any more either.

        And then, on top of all that, he’s making $6.5M.


      • Texcubnut

        Byrd has no value. Period. Other ML team scouts know this. That is why he hasn’t been traded. If not ‘jettisoned’, then at the very least, benched. Pitchers, including Garza, have better AB’s.

    • endy

       I agree the lineup and bullpen are atrocious. Everyone in AAA should be depressed they couldn’t beat out shawn camp, who’s throwing frisbees up there.

      Soriano, Byrd, and Soto are like watching a recurring nightmare or a reruns of a bad show.

      we’ve all seen what they bring to the table.

      Jackson (maybe swings and misses too much for leadoff?)
      Lahair (LF)

      Probably too many lefties, but a problem I would like to see.

      I think everyone that plays well, except players pre-arbitration could be flipped for younger talent this year.  Including Samardjiza, Barney, etc..

      Also prospects that don’t fit McThoyer’s philosophy (e.g. Free Swinging Vitters).

      I like Garza, but if you can get 2-3 players that are ML ready, you gotta do it.  You can replace Garza in FA (hopefully).

    • paulcatanese

      I’ll vote for that one Bryan.

    • J Daniel

      Do you think this team was going to compete this year before Theo took over?  Really?  I keep reading unrealistic expectations from many on here.  This mess is going to take time to clean up.  I actually like how they have been in every game, and if not for Kerry Wood they could be 2-3 wins.

      And think about the reaction if they had not signed Wood?  Most everyone would have been ripping them up and down!

      In short order this mess will be completely turned over.  Byrd will be gone.  Soriano will be gone.  Wood will pitch himself out.

      Not saying all is Rosie, but can we all let this play out a bit?

      • Debhattendorf2001

        Totally agree, J. Daniel.

      • John_CC

         The name calling and hyperbole was pretty intense while Epstein and Hoyer were working on the deal with Woody, that’s for sure!  Now he owns the first 2 Ls of the season.  Cubs could just as easily be 3-1 right now.

    • John_CC

      They are trying hard to move Byrd, believe it.  So far, Soriano and Soto are both playing hard AND with their head’s in the game, that is positive and I give credit to Sveum and McKay and the coaching staff.  So I’m not sure what you mean by “jettison” but we have to remain patient. If Soriano and Soto continue to play hard and produce the odds of finding trade partners increase.

      • J Daniel

        Really, do you think they are trying to move Byrd?

        I agree, just being sarcastic!  Of course they are – just not the right offer.  At the right time, in June, he will be traded or released to make room for BJax.  Again, this is a business decision!

        Man, some of this stuff is hard to read.

        • John_CC

           I guess I was pointing out the obvious, but it was in response to Bryan’s call to jettison Byrd…yes, as we all know they are working on it. 

          But I agree, some of this stuff is hard to read.

  • Redlarczykg

    If Sveum wants to keep his old buddy around, Sveum should use his pull to get Camp a beer vendor’s job and offer Camp to be the Cubs batting practice pitcher.

    Beliveau belongs in the pen.  Iowa – 3 in.  6 so 1 w 0.00 era

    I wonder how the Brewers were able to bunt so well without a bunting contest in ST?

  • cubtex

    Ozzie Gullen should get axed today! Hopefully he gets what he deserves. This clown has gotten away with so much in the past.

    • paulcatanese

      Everybody loves a dr*nk:)

    • John_CC

       Pretty nice to see him finally get his foot stuck in his own *ss instead just in his mouth.

      No way Loria fires him. No way.

  • cubtex

    I didn’t like the DeJesus signing when it happened and I still don’t. Obviously it is early and he might have a good year(I don’t think so)….but the outfield is crowded already and why sign this guy for 2 years? He is not a leadoff hitter. He can’t steal bases and he doesn’t hit for a high enough average. I wish Theo would just concentrate on building the farm system and sign Soler. His track record for free agency signings has been awful. Take a look at his free agents with Boston on payroll for 2011.

    C Crawford
    JD Drew
    Mike Cameron.

    60 mil in free agency signing on the Red Sox payorll for 2011 for that production.
    I guess it would be better to rebuild like a small market team because he hasn’t hit on a free agent since who?

  • cubtex

    In Iowa it would be nice to see Travis Wood pitch well and possibly take over for Volstad at some point this year. Vitters got 2 hits as well last night. There are some positives. Rizzo is just crushing the ball. Maybe at some point this year we will see an infiield of
    Vitters 3B
    Castro SS
    Barney 2B
    Rizzo 1B

    Other than Barney…those 3 could be part of a solid infield for years to come.

    • J Daniel

      I believe you will see that infield soon.

      I would love to see BJax, Rizzo, and Vitters up asap as well.  But let me ask everyone this question – are they going to win the Series this year with that infield?  Probably not.  Will that infield be better – absolutely – let them avoid the super 2 status then bring the guys up.  That is a SMART business decision.

      • Bryan

        J Daniel…I agree with the business/financial side…but how about convincing that logic to the 3m fans paying to see a quality and competitive product on the field.

        • J Daniel

          You are correct – hard to convince – it is the fans right to not like the product – don’t watch or don’t buy the product.

          But, it is the best long term way to get the job done.  They have been periodically trying to buy a team that wins it in order to be the guy that accomplished it . . . and where has it gotten them?  Close in 2003.  Other than that?

          It is time to build from bottom up – start over – with a plan.  It may or may not work but I know there is a plan in place.

          Can’t convince a majority of fans, especially in a 103 year drought, but the reality is the other way has not worked.

          Let’s be realistic.  We will see the kids.  We will see free agents.  We will see progress.

          Would I have loved for them to spend $240 on Albert?  Maybe?  All of that on Prince?  Not really!  A system that is over rated by fans and media that is not really goo needs to be re-done!

    • paulcatanese

      Hey, Barney has his HR swing going. (that was the shortest HR one can hit at Wrigley) just tweaked the basket.:)

    • John_CC

      I really disliked Ian Stewart and the pick-up of him…but I tell ya, he is growing on me already.  I’m certainly not ready to put Vitters in place for him?  What has either done so far to deserve that?

      • cubtex

        I am not saying now….but what if Stewart is hitting .200 at the all star break and Vitters has improved defensively and is hitting over .300? That is what I am saying.

        • John_CC

          well, duh.  What if Stewart is hitting ..265 and Vitters is still Vitters in AAA?

          • cubtex

            well duh…then Stewart still plays until they can move him or decide to keep him.

          • Zonk

            No matter what happens, I think they will keep Vitters at AAA until his defense stabilizes.  It makes no sense for him to come to the Majors and tank defensively.  He really needs to stay at 3B to have value to the Cubs, because he doesn’t rake enough to be much of an OF

          • cubtex

            I agree about keeping Vitters at 3B. Not convinced Stewart is the answer.

          • RickinMSP

            I’m not convinced either.  Fortunately there is plenty of time to find out.

  • paulcatanese

    One thing about the game yesterday, the Cubs may have found a genuine starter from the day before in the Shark.
    That being said, why use him as a pinch runner at 2nd with a chance of a run scoring collision at home plate?

    • Bryan

      Paul…funny, I thought the same thing last night.  Why risk a collision, pulled hamstring, ankle twist, etc on Jeff?  That was an interested move.

    • cubs1967

      uncle Bud needs to get the DH in both leagues……….

      pitchers are becoming like QBs in the NFL; they need to be protected due to the scarcity of good ones and the enormous contracts they are signing……..injuries are high enough for a non-natural throwing motion; don’t need them injured bunting or running the bases.

      • paulcatanese

        Response to both you and Bryan. The Shark probably can run well, given his football background, and any collision at home plate, well the catcher would get the worst of that. But, I think we all agree, that was a move that could have cost the Cubs dearly. Bad enough if the Shark runs the bases when he is pitching, no need to risk him further than the need to. You are both absolutly correct, thank you.

    • cubtex

      The one thing though is that he has had plenty of collisions lining up as a WR for the Irish. He is not a small guy. He probably would have enjoyed hitting someone since it has been several years :)

      • paulcatanese

        True, he would have enjoyed it, and wouldn’t have been surprised if he wasn’t the one to even beg Sveum to pinch run.
        No doubt he still hadn’t come down from his high from the day before, can’t really blame him, that was a masterpiece.

        • cubtex

          I totally understand what you are saying though. The problem is that the Cubs are very unathletic on the bench. That is why it was a nice luxury to carry Campana. You have Baker,DeWitt,R Johnson,Mather and Clevenger. Probably Mather runs the best out of that group but it is a nothing outstanding. I tell you one pitcher who can fly is Casey Coleman. I noticed that several years ago seeing him pitch for Round Rock.

          • paulcatanese

            You are correct with Coleman and he was used several times last year in that mode, very quick.

          • Nathan

            they should sign rich harden for pinch running LOL 

          • J Daniel

            And ring back Z to pinch hit

    • John_CC

       The bench was really short, if they used Mather or Baker there and tied the game they would be handcuffed.  Samardzija can move…and I’m sure could ruin a catcher’s evening if he wanted to put his shoulder into him.  He was a Div I wide receiver!

  • John_CC

     Johnson and DeWitt had already been used, and Clevenger of course.

  • Theboardrider

    I said a few weeks ago my bold prediction is that Samardiza will be an all-star.  We’ll see but looking good after one game!

  • Anthony

    Reasons why Soler has a verbal contract with the Cubs organization:

    1. The signings and retentions of fellow Cuban teammates and countrymen

    2. The quick release of a plus athletic(freaky as someone said) RF with one of the best arms in the system who was lighting it up in ST and was jettisoned because of no financial investment and would have forced the Cubs to play him in RF in Daytona.

    3. The release of another promising RF athlete acquired from the Indians

    4. The conversion to catcher of another RF with a strong arm currently working at it in EXTST

    5. The demotion of an under-achieving RF to Daytona from AA with a huge hole in his bat

    6. The short-term signing of DeJesus, and others, who aren’t RF’s

    7. The unusual signing of an old Cuban named Bonne who is 25 years old camped out in A+ Daytona along with what appears to be a weak bat at that level for that age. This was a gap filler to allow the cuts of the athletes in numbers 2/3 above, and someone to hold the hand of Soler.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if a few more Cubans get signed as they are favorites of Theo, and obviously Fleita(the chase for Iglesias09/10).

    The Cubs have created an environment to make the one many covet simply impossible to reject.

    The winter joke of the Chicago Cubans isn’t a joke anymore.

    Soler will be a CUB which will make many of you very happy.