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Could Jeff Samardzija win NL Comeback Player of the Year?

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 22: Jeff Samardzija #29 of the San Francisco Giants delivers the ball in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 22, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 22: Jeff Samardzija #29 of the San Francisco Giants delivers the ball in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 22, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
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Veteran Jeff Samardzija has put together a nice bounce-back season for the San Francisco Giants. Could he win NL Comeback Player of the Year?

It’s always nice to see a player turn it around after an abysmal season the year before. That’s exactly what Jeff Samardzija has done for the San Francisco Giants this season.

Every fifth day, the veteran right-hander has been a reliable option for a Giants team that has relied heavily on a number of young pitchers.

Between his on-field production and importance to the team’s success, one can certainly make a case for Samardzija to take home NL Comeback Player of the Year honors.

Last year, Samardzija turned in the worst year of his career, going 1-5 with a 6.25 ERA in 44.2 innings spanning 10 starts. Shoulder and pectoral issues cost him significant time and when he was on the field he was far from effective.

This season he’s looked more like the pitcher who landed a five-year, $90 million deal in free agency.

In 26 starts, he’s gone 9-10 with a 3.46 ERA that ranks 12th among qualified NL starters. He has 123 strikeouts and just 39 walks in 146.2 innings on the year, and he’s allowed a .220 opponents’ batting average for a 1.08 WHIP.

The 34-year-old is in the midst of his best stretch of the season with a 2.00 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in 63 innings of work over his last 10 starts. He has a .173 opponents’ batting average during that span and he’s tallied seven quality starts.

In the late stages of his career, Samardzija has changed his game on the bump, relying less on velocity and more on finesse.

Will his rebound performance be enough to land him NL Comeback Player of the Year honors?

Here are a few other top candidates:

  • SP Sonny Gray, Cincinnati Reds

2018: 23 GS, 11-9, 4.90 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 123 K, 130.1 IP
2019: 25 GS, 9-6, 2.92 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 164 K, 138.2 IP

  • SP Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers

2018: 15 GS, 7-3, 1.97 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 89 K, 82.1 IP
2019: 23 GS, 12-3, 1.64 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 126 K, 148.1 IP

  • 3B Josh Donaldson, Atlanta Braves

2018: 52 G, 219 PA, 119 OPS+, 22 XBH (8 HR), 23 RBI, 30 R
2019: 125 G, 528 PA, 129 OPS+, 58 XBH (29 HR), 73 RBI, 75 R

There’s a little over a month remaining for Jeff Samardzija to make his case for NL Comeback Player of the Year honors.

Next. 10 best shortstops in franchise history

The only other San Francisco Giants player to win the award was catcher Buster Posey during the 2012 season when he made an impressive return from a broken ankle.

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