For the past several years, the name Jeff Samardzija has been synonymous with “Oh my god, what a disaster! Really, avert your eyes, everyone avert your eyes!” No, it’s not a synonym that comes in handy for writers all that often, but any shorthand can be useful.
Useful has not been something Samardzija has been, putting up ERAs of 7.53 and 8.38 in 2009 and 2010, respectively. But this year he has turned things around. In 69 relief appearances he has more than doubled his strikeouts per nine innings, dramatically cut his walk rate and reduced the number of hits he’s allowed. He is sporting an ERA of 3.12 and a 1.279 WHIP which, while not All-Star material for a short reliever is really good and is especially good for a guy like Samardzija.
Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times reports that, as a result of this great leap forward, the Cubs are having internal discussions about moving Samardzija to the rotation for 2012.
“We’ll evaluate where we’re at this winter, and who the [front office] might go get,’’ [pitching coach Mark] Riggins said. ‘‘But you’ve got to look from within first. And of the guys that we have who could possibly do that, he’s one you’ve got to think about.’’
Coming in to 2011, it looked like the Cubs’ rotation would be a strength. That notion has gone the way of many a man’s best laid plans, so the Cubs need to be creative. With a new general manager on the way and no sense yet of what direction the team may take in terms of spending. rebuilding, etc., it makes all the sense in the world to put Samardzija on a program that will get him ready to start games next spring. Flexibility is the key.
Now, if I could only convince myself that 2009 and 2010 were the aberrations and 2011 was what we could expect to see for the rest of his career …