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Best San Francisco Giants of the 2010s: 21. Jeff Samardzija

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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Jeff Samardzija has been a valuable innings eater for the San Francisco Giants, and he’s a candidate for NL Comeback Player of the Year honors this season.

The San Francisco Giants signed Jeff Samardzija to a five-year, $90 million deal prior to the 2016 season.

It was a Plan B move for the Giants, who were hot on the trail of Zack Greinke before he signed a massive six-year, $206.5 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“It was helpful to put a significant piece in our organization,” general manager Bobby Evans told reporters of the signing. “This guy’s a horse.”

It was a fair assessment.

Samardzija was coming off three straight 200-inning seasons, during which time he posted a 4.09 ERA and 1.23 WHIP while earning a spot on the All-Star team in 2014.

He kept that streak in his first season in San Francisco, going 12-11 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with 167 strikeouts in 203.1 innings.

The following year, he led the NL with 207.2 innings of work while posting a 4.42 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 205 strikeouts and just 32 walks for an NL-best 1.4 BB/9. Unfortunately, he also led the league with 15 losses, and the Giants failed to contend despite a number of big contracts.

Injuries finally put a stop to his 200-inning streak in 2018 when he pitched just 44.2 innings and struggled to an unsightly 6.25 ERA and 1.63 WHIP over 10 starts. A pectoral strain and shoulder inflammation led to three injured list trips and it was essentially a lost season in what was a trying year overall for the team.

The 34-year-old has bounced back in a big way this year.

He ranks among the NL leaders in ERA (3.38, 12th) and WHIP (1.09, t-ninth), and he’s pitched extremely well of late to emerge as the clear No. 2 guy behind Madison Bumgarner.

With one final year and $19.8 million left on his contract, Samardzija still has time to improve his ultimate legacy with the San Francisco Giants. For now, he claims the No. 21 spot for the decade.

Next. 22. Will Smith

Check back here regularly as we count down the 50 best San Francisco Giants of the 2010s.

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