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San Francisco Giants: Jeff Samardzija pitching deeper into games

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06: Jeff Samardzija #29 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays in the top of the first of a Major League Baseball game at Oracle Park on April 6, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06: Jeff Samardzija #29 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays in the top of the first of a Major League Baseball game at Oracle Park on April 6, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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San Francisco Giants veteran starter Jeff Samardzija is starting to once again show the ability to pitch deep into games.

In what has been an up-and-down tenure with the team, Jeff Samardzija had one of his best starts in a San Francisco Giants uniform on Monday night.

He limited the Arizona Diamondbacks to five hits and two runs across eight innings, tying a season-high with 114 pitches thrown.

That’s the fifth time he’s reached triple-digit pitches this year, and the fourth time since the start of June. It’s also the sixth-straight start where he’s thrown at least 95 pitches.

He’s been one of the busiest arms not only on the San Francisco Giants roster but in all of baseball. Over the past four weeks, Samardzija is tied for the eighth-most pitches thrown with 520, an average of 104 per game.

That can have both good and it’s bad implications.

It’s always nice to give the bullpen a break, especially when Madison Bumgarner has been the only starter consistently pitching deep into games this year, so this recent run by Samardzija has been a welcome reprieve in that respect.

On the other hand, the Giants have to be careful not to overwork Samardzija, especially given his occasional injury problems.

Also, despite working deeper into games, he’s been far from lights out with a 4.32 ERA on the year. That’s not terrible, but it’s also not what you’d expect to see from someone topping an innings or pitches thrown leaderboard.

Only Homer Bailey (4.87) and Eduardo Rodriguez (4.79) have a higher ERA than Samardzija among pitchers who rank in the top ten of the aforementioned list of pitchers who have thrown the most pitches over the past month.

While it’s possible the San Francisco Giants staff is giving him a longer leash in hopes of auditioning him for teams ahead of the trade deadline, his $19.8 million contract for 2020 will likely still be enough to turn away any potential suitors.

Ideally, Samardzija would build off of Monday’s start and put together a few more like it in the weeks and months to come. That would take some pressure off the bullpen and could build some potential trade value heading into the offseason.

It will still take the Giants eating a good chunk of his salary in order to move him, but if he keeps throwing the ball the way he did on Monday, it’s not out of the question.

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Samardzija is slated to pitch the San Francisco Giants final game before the All-Star break this Sunday when the St. Louis Cardinals come to Oracle Park. With an extended break to follow, don’t be surprised if he works deep into the game once again.

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