Giants 2020 preview: Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija
The San Francisco Giants are going to lean heavily on Jeff Samardzija in 2020 to try to stabilize a weak rotation. Can he have a repeat of 2019?
Coming off of a very solid 2019 season, Jeff Samardzija now carries the burden of being the ace on the staff for the San Francisco Giants.
Can the veteran right-hander provide stability to a weak starting rotation in 2020?
In 2019, the Shark recorded a 3.52 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and an 11-12 record in 32 starts and 181 innings pitched. All of that came on the heels of an injury plagued 2018 season where he spent most of the year watching from the sidelines.
Many of us wondered if Samardzija would even be effective last season. He ended up being the best starter on the staff. Now, with Madison Bumgarner gone, there is a very good chance that he will be the team’s Opening Day starter.
Johnny Cueto may be more talented and exciting, but he missed most of last year due to injury, whereas the Shark proved that he could be a respectable option at the top of the staff.
But can Samardzija, at 35 years of age, realistically repeat his performance from last season?
There will always be the looming question of injury, and he may not have a ton left on his fastball the older he gets.
He is projected for a 4.30 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 2020, according to Baseball Reference. I think that is probably a fair projection. With the Giants leaning on him a lot, he will surely get knocked around every once in a while. He is only projected to pitch 155 innings, though, which is probably pretty light if he stays healthy.
I don’t know if he still has a 200-inning year in his arm, especially with Zaidi running the show and crunching the numbers on a starter’s third time through the order. Nonetheless, the Giants are going to need the Shark to deliver another good year so they can at least have one reliable starter to lean on.
It’s also worth considering that if he lights it up during the first half of the season, contending teams may become interested in Samardzija in the final year of his contract. That is a long way off, but still worth keeping in mind.
For now, let’s hope the Shark can pick up where he left off in 2019 with another strong season for the San Francisco Giants.