The (long) wait is over. Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija pitched in a ton of tough luck over his first 10 starts this season, but he finally got into the win column today as part of an 8-4 victory over the Giants in at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Samardzija allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and no walks over seven-plus innings in the win. He struck out 10 batters for the first time this season. It was the sixth double-digit strikeout game of his career.
The Cubs averaged 1.82 runs per game in Samardzija’s first 10 starts this season, the lowest in the majors, but they put eight runs on the board today against Yusmeiro Petit and David Huff. The win was actually his first since August 24 of last year, a span of 17 starts.
Samardzija now owns a fantastic 1.68 ERA and 64/21 K/BB in 75 innings over his first 11 starts this season. Only the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright (1.67 ERA) has a lower ERA among starters. The Cubs have quite a trade commodity on their hands here.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.