Chicago Cubs reliever Jeff Samardzija played a significant role in the success of the 2008 Chicago Cubs. After being called up from the minors in July 2008, Samardzija pitched 27 2/3 for the Cubs, allowing 24 hits and only 7 earned runs (12 total runs). Samardzija struck out 25, but also walked 15 batters. At times his control escaped him, and he ended up in jams that he created. He has an excellent fastball and a great split-finger fastball, but needs to develop 1 or 2 other pitches in order to keep opposing teams off-guard. Most major league hitters can hit an above-average fastball, and Samardzija gave up most of his runs when opposing batters were sitting on his fastball.
Right now, I envision Samardzija staying with the reliever role. He is a young player, known more his amazing catches in college on the football field – not the baseball diamond – at the University of Notre Dame. Although his collegiate numbers as a starting pitcher were staggering, pitching at the big-league level is a whole new ballgame. It will do Samardzija good to learn from veterans like Kerry Wood, Bob Howry and Neal Cotts and to develop another pitch or 2 that will keep batters guessing. That being said, things could change depending on what happens during the Cubs negotiations with Closer Kerry Wood and Starting Pitcher Ryan Dempster. If the Cubs choose not to sign one of those pitchers, then it could open up a different spot in the pitching rotation that Manager Lou Pinella chooses to keep following Spring Training.
Regardless of how it all turns out, it’s always nice to have these options. Young pitchers like Carlos Marmol, Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, Kevin Hart, and Angel Guzman don’t come around all the time. Being able to take the time to find the best spot for a young player or use that player as a chip in a bigger trade is always a nice commodity to have in the ever-changing world of Major League Baseball.