Sep 3, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) throws in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE

Samardzija showing signs of improvement in second half


Following a 2-1 loss at Washington Monday afternoon, Jeff Samardzija had nothing to hold onto but himself, maybe a towel. For the second straight start, the Cubs right-hander threw seven innings for naught. Despite a seven-inning, one-run effort, he dropped his second consecutive decision, thanks largely to an offense that has been sporadic, to say the least.

Samardzija threw seven innings, allowed a lone run, and struck out eight while walking only one. In his last two starts, he has combined for 14 innings pitched, and has allowed a total of three earned runs while striking out 18. This continues off a solid month of August, in which the righty managed just a 1-4 record, but held a respectable 3.54 ERA in six starts. He walked only seven batters in 42 1/3 innings of work, and struck out essentially one batter per inning pitched, with 42 on the month.

In July, the right-hander was even better, although one would never guess it with a measly 1-2 mark. However, his earned run average sat below two – at 1.91 over five starts. He allowed only 21 hits over 33 innings of work, holding opponents to a .181 average in five starts.

This begs the question that Cubs fans have wondered for several years now – Is Jeff Samardzija a front-line starter? In his first year at the helm of the Chicago rotation, he is 8-13 with a 3.91 ERA in 27 starts. He has avoided any injuries – unlike the Cubs other front-end arm, Matt Garza. He has held opponents to a respectable .241 average with runners in scoring position, and has really buckled down with runners on and two outs. Opposing hitters have managed just a .213 mark against Samardzija this season in such situations.

The verdict is still out on the right-hander, but if he pitched behind an offense that scored consistently, there is a very strong chance Samardzija has 15 wins right now, and is mentioned as an emerging top-of-the-rotation starter.

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