Role: No. 2 starter
Expectations: I fully expect for Chicago White Sox starting Jeff Samardzija to be a solid No. 2 starter this season.
I understand he had an issue giving up home runs this spring, but keep in mind it is Arizona and only spring training. Last season, he had a 2.99 ERA with the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics, with 200-plus strikeouts.
Samardzija will provide something the White Sox didn’€™t have last year, and that is a quality right-handed starting pitcher. He will help break up Sale and Quintana, giving the White Sox a formidable 1-3 in their rotation.
With Sale and Samardzija at the top, the White Sox will be able to go toe-to-toe with any top two in the league.
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As far as his win total, a lot of that will depend on his bullpen. The offense should be good enough to get him 12 wins; however, if Robertson can be a quality closer, Samardzija could win as many as 17 games.
Samardzija has always been a big strikeout pitcher, and if he stays healthy will likely strike out over 200 batters.
I think his pitching in the AL for an entire year, as well as U.S. Cellular Field, will push his ERA to around 3.50. That would be very good considering the way the ball travels in the summer.
Here is another quality that Samardzija will add to the Sox staff … an edge.
While Sale is an ace, Samardzija pitches with an attitude that should rub off on the rest of the staff. While I realize the back end of the rotation may be suspect, a little bit of swagger could only help.
Not to mention the fact that Samardzija is a horse and can throw upwards of 130 pitches per start.
Final Thoughts: Samardzija is a very good starting pitcher on his walk year. That usually produces good results, especially considering the fact that he is pitching for the team he grew up rooting for.
Will he sign a long-term deal? That will be discussed at length this season, and he may go into free agency.
If I were the White Sox, I would not trade him no matter where they were in the standings barring a monster return. Take the draft pick and the slot money.
Samardzija may be more of a workhorse when it comes to pitches thrown per game than Sale, even though he isn’t as good of a pitcher.
He could be a very good number two starter and give the White Sox a 1-2 punch similar to what they had in Sale and a post-injury Peavy in 2012.
If that happens, the White Sox could find themselves back in contention for the first time since ’12.