Chicago White Sox and the Jeff Samardzija conundrum


Coming into the 2015 season with the Chicago White Sox, Jeff Samardzija was expected to be a second ace behind Chris Sale. While he has pitched well at times, there have been poor starts that really stand out, including allowing nine earned runs in his most recent start.

Here is a breakdown of Samardzija’s issues.

• Pitcher’s counts (on the count opponents make contact)

Surprisingly, batters are hitting for a solid average versus Samardzija in pitcher’s counts.

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With the count 0-1, opposing batters are hitting .378 with five RBIs. While he is limiting hitters to a .242 average with an 0-2 count, consider the situation.

We are talking about a pitcher that is considered to be a front of the rotation starter. A good pitcher shouldn’t be allowing an average anywhere close to that on 0-2 count.

First pitch hits

Samardzija has been burned on first pitches as well. He is allowing an BAA of .341 with a homer and seven RBIs.

Hitter’s counts

A 2-1 count hasn’t been kind to Samardzija. Hitters that make contact on this count are batting .389 with three home runs and four RBIs.

Even counts

On 1-1 counts, Samardzija is struggling. When batters make contact, they are hitting .417 with two home runs and 10 RBIs. With a 2-2 count, Samardzija is faring much better. He has struck out 18 batters, and is only allowing a .205 average.

It is simple, Samardzija is giving up far too many hits. Not just on each count, but overall. His batting average against is .286, which is terrible for a front of the rotation starter. That is more along the lines of a fourth or fifth starter, and one that isn’t very good.

Home runs allowed are also a problem. Samardzija has already allowed nine home runs, and considering it has yet to heat up at U.S. Cellular Field many more are surely to follow.

Assuming he starts 30-34 games, it is likely that he will throw in the neighborhood of 35-40 home runs (my assumption). That is assuming he doesn’t get dealt from the Sox, which is possible.

Here is my big question: Will Samardzija rebound in 2015?

I think he started to look much better in starts prior to Tuesday’s outing against the Texas Rangers, where he was awful. A major problem is his inability to get the leadoff hitter out, and not just in the first inning.

They hit .450, which is nearly one out of every two hits. That is something a pitcher can’t allow, because putting runners on base in front of the middle of the order is bad. And that is one of the main reasons behind his struggles in the first inning, where he gets torched.

Samardzija could end up being a middle of the rotation starter for the White Sox. While that would not be enough to get them into contention, it might get them some good prospects in return come the deadline.

Samardzija has been a disappointment for the Sox, however he could still end up helping out the farm system. Whether he helps them get back into contention or not, he could still bring back solid pieces for the future.

Next: Carlos Rodon solid in no-decision

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