Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija has pitched his final game of the 2012 season. On September 8, Samardzija threw his first career complete game, a 4-3 Cubs win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits and struck out nine. In so doing, Samardzija ended his season with a 3.81 ERA in 174.2 innings pitched.
I admit that at the time I did not agree with the decision to make Samardzija a starting pitcher. Before 2012, he had much more success out of the bullpen and struggled in each start that he made. It turned out that I was wrong, and in this case, I am glad. This was the perfect season for Samardzija to make the transition into a starter, and he will now be ready to start for a hopefully improved Cubs team in 2013.
Samardzija ends the season at 9-13. His personal record may not look all that impressive, but remember that he pitched on a fifth-place team ranked 29th in the Majors in runs scored. I did not think he would have even this good of a record. His 3.81 ERA is very solid, but a breakdown of his monthly ERA shows it as even more impressive. Samardzija had only two months with an ERA over 4.00, and one of those was just barely over that mark. In April, his ERA was 4.13. He had a terrible June at 10.41 but rebounded from that to pitch a terrific second half.
We cannot disregard June, but if we could, we would see just how successful Samardzija was in his first full season as a starter. Disregarding June, Samardzija's record is 9-9, 2.80. That looks very promising as the Cubs try to rebuild into a contender. Considering that they traded away their two best pitchers of 2012 (Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm) and Matt Garza is out for the season, Samardzija assumed the role of staff ace by default, and he pitched like an ace in the second half.
I personally do not like the shutdown because I like watching Samardzija pitch, but I understand it. He is in his prime at age 27, and the Cubs are obviously going nowhere. Before 2012, his highest innings total in the Majors was 88.0 in 2011. The shutdown will help preserve him for next season and beyond. The Cubs will need him to pitch like an ace next year because they have no one else right now who could even come close to the role.
Congratulations to Jeff Samardzija for a successful first season as a starter. Maybe next year the Cubs can score more runs for him and the rest of the rotation and help improve all starters' win total.
Chicago Cubs, Jeff Samardzija Player Page, cubs.mlb.com.
Major League Baseball, Sortable Player Statistics, Pitching, mlb.mlb.com as of September 9, 2012.
Major League Baseball, Sortable Team Statistics, Hitting, mlb.mlb.com as of September 9, 2012.
Yahoo! Sports, Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates Box Score, September 8, sports.yahoo.com/mlb.
Raymond grew up in Florida and began watching the Cubs on WGN in 1982. He became a fan in 1984 when Ryne Sandberg hit the two famous game-tying home runs off Cardinals closer and former Cub Bruce Sutter. Raymond then solidified his team loyalty when the Cubs won the division later that season and has been a fan ever since. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau.
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