Chicago Cubs: Looking back at Jeff Samardzija’s career

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Jun 12, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking on to the scene – to mixed results

After a couple of years in the Chicago farm system, Samardzija broke onto the big league scene with the Cubs in 2008 to outstanding results. Working as a reliever, the hard-throwing right-hander pitched to a 2.28 earned run average in 27 2/3 innings of work, giving many cause for hope moving forward.

However, the 2009 and 2010 seasons offered something much different. Over 54 innings spanning the two campaigns, Samardzija struggled to a 0.86 SO/BB ratio to go along with an ERA pushing 8.00. He allowed over 11 hits per nine and posted a WHIP nearing the 2.000 mark.

Heading into his age 26 season, the righty, who was still being used solely as a reliever, seemed to figure some things out as his FIP fell from 8.25 to 3.66 from 2010 to 2011, while his strikeout-to-walk margin improved to 1.74 – still leaving plenty to be desired, but a noted improvement over the year prior.

Taking this improvement in-stride, the Chicago Cubs opted to convert Samardzija to a starter, a role he still holds to this day.

Next: Adapting to a starting role