Where are they now? Checking in on former Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images)
Jeff Samardzija / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Jeff Samardzija (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: A night that quickly went wrong for Samardzija, Giants

After Javier Baez connected on a solo shot in the eighth inning of Game 1 to sink the Giants and ace Johnny Cueto, the Cubs had a chance to push the Giants to the brink of elimination in Game 2 of the 2016 NLDS.

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Toeing the rubber opposite Kyle Hendricks, Samardzija had a chance to even up the series and strike back at his former club. But that’s not what happened. With two outs in the first, Ben Zobrist connected on a run-scoring single in the first to get Chicago on the board. In the second, two more RBI knocks – one courtesy of Hendricks – pushed the Cubs’ lead to 4-0.

That was it. Gregor Blanco pinch-hit for Samardzija in the top of the third, ending his night abruptly. Of course, the Cubs went on to win the series – eventually winning the World Series.

Still looking for his first World Series ring, Samardzija came back in 2017 and had what can only be called an interesting season. He lost 15 games, which at first might make you think he really struggled. But he once again broke the 200-inning mark and actually led all of baseball, walking just 1.4 batters per nine.

After an injury-plagued 2018, the former Notre Dame star bounced back last season, making 32 starts for a disappointing Giants club while working to a 1.108 WHIP. It wasn’t a dominant performance, by any stretch, but he was once again healthy and taking the ball every five days.

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2020 marks the final year of that five-year contract Samardzija signed with San Francisco. Given his age and the shortened season, he could be one of the players in a strange position heading into 2021, potentially testing the open waters for the second time in his career in what can only be called an uncertain environment.