Toronto has had by far the best offense in baseball this season, scoring 5.4 runs per game while none of the other teams are above 4.6 runs per game, but this afternoon the (admittedly short-handed) Blue Jays were no match for White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija.
Samardzija, an impending free agent whose name has been popping up frequently in trade speculation, tossed a complete-game, four-hit shutout on just 108 pitches.
He’s had a disappointing season and carrying a 4.93 ERA into mid-June certainly wasn’t what the White Sox were hoping for when they acquired Samardzija from the A’s, but in his last six starts he’s now got a 2.40 ERA and 39/8 K/BB ratio in 45 innings. And he’s thrown at least seven innings in 11 of 13 starts since May 1.
Samardzija remains one of the best pitchers likely to be available at the trade deadline.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.