Next up on the San Francisco Giants season reviews is right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
4 games (4 starts), 16.2 innings, 21 hits, 4 walks, 2 hit by pitch, 7 home runs, 6 strikeouts, 1.500 WHIP
9.72 ERA, 9.01 FIP, -0.7 rWAR, -0.5 fWAR
Status throughout the season
Samardzija made the Opening Day roster, and was placed on the 10-day Injured List on Aug. 8 with shoulder impingement. He was recalled on Sept. 25, and designated for assignment on Sept. 26.
Perhaps this operates more as a review of Samardzija’s tenure with the Giants than of his season, but the Shark’s 2020 makes me quite sad, for one main reason: I felt he was under-appreciated by the fanbase, and his season merely added to the narrative that he was a giant ball of disappointment in the black and orange.
You can quibble with Bobby Evans’ decision to dole out a large contract (including a compensatory draft pick) to sign Samardzija when retooling with younger players would have been a much better move. But that’s Evans’ fault, not Samardzija’s, and what the veteran righty did with the Giants was quite good for a quite while.
In his first two years with the Giants, Samardzija amassed 6.0 fWAR, and led the league in walks per nine innings in one season (led as in fewest per nine innings, not most).
He was good, even though the Giants were not, which is how he ended up leading the league in losses in 2017, despite the aforementioned success at limiting walks, and a quite nice 3.61 FIP.
He was never dynamic, but when healthy he ate innings like breakfast. That, combined with his totally decent run prevention, made him an asset far more than a liability. Even with his disastrous 2020, Samardzija was worth 6.9 fWAR during his five-year stint with the Giants, which is ... well ... nice, I guess.
But many fans held the poor contract against him, and he was tremendously bad in 2020, so I fear that will be the last memory of him.
Anyway, enough of the five-year review, and onto the grim 2020 review. It was apparent from the opening series that things were not right with Samardzija. Though he entered Spring Training with a chance to be the team’s No. 2 starter, he didn’t touch the mound during the team’s four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Tyler Anderson, Logan Webb, and Drew Smyly made starts, but Samardzija sat pasted to the bench. The team said that pitching at Dodger Stadium, against an LA team that had great success against righties, wasn’t a good fit. But there’s only so much window dressing you can put on it; if your team is shuffling their rotation so that you can avoid certain teams and certain ballparks, it’s because they don’t think you’re good.
And he wasn’t.
When his time to start finally came around, Samardzija gave up 5 earned runs. He gave up the same number in his second and third starts, before hitting the 10-day Injured List and staying there for 48 days.
The Giants finally brought him back for one final hurrah when they had a doubleheader during the final series. He allowed 3 earned runs in as many innings, and that was the end of the Shark era.
He finished 13th on the team in innings, and third in home runs allowed. He issued as many free passes, through walks and hit batters, as he had strikeouts, and he gave up more dingers than either.
He was bad. Very, very bad.
I hope that’s not how we remember him.
Role in 2021
Samardzija did not seem healthy in 2020, and hopefully he can find full health and return to being a decent player next year. But it definitely won’t be for the Giants.
I don’t want to, but ...
How would you grade Jeff Samardzija’s season?
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