If the SF Giants plan to give Jeff Samardzija another chance at helping their pitching staff, Kyle Foster argues that a new role could unlock some of his past performance.
Sometimes a year can go bad. We’ve seen it all around the world in 2020. But when you scale it down to baseball and the SF Giants, it’s hard to ignore the struggles of right-handed starter Jeff Samardzija.
With Samardzija due to come off the 10-day injured list any day now, the team faces a roster conundrum. How will the team utilize the 35-year-old veteran?
While he’s been a starter for the entirety of Samrdzija’s tenure, the team should use him as a reliever when he does return. There are many reasons why this idea, as weird as it seems, would work.
Over the past few years, the Giants have had success converting starters into relievers. Just last year, then struggling starter Drew Pomeranz became a dominating reliever after shifting to the pen. Even prospects, like Shaun Anderson, have made the move.
Much like Pomeranz, the move the bullpen could also help Shark’s value this offseason. We saw last season how a small sample size could increase his trade value and help him land a very good contract for a reliever. Samardzija could not only extend his career but also get another nice payday as he did five years ago. After all, Pomeranz was able to grab a solid four year, $34 million deal last offseason. If all goes well, Samardzija could get something with some guarantees, which probably isn’t in the cards at the moment.
For the remainder of the season, this could be a perfect fit. This season, Samardzija has been very effective through his first 25 pitches before things would go south. After all, in that span batters have a line of .167/.211/.222/ with an OPS of .433, per Baseball-Reference.com. He’s also allowed only four total bases so far this season in his first 25 pitches.
However, after that is when things get quite bad for Samardzija. When he throws 26-50 pitches, he allows hitters to hit .412/.444/.824 with an OPS of 1.268. On top of that pitches 51-75 have been just as rough. Opponents have smashed a .368/.368/1.000 line in those at bat for an absurd OPS of 1.368. With those numbers, one could make a valiant case as to why Samardzija should be moved to the bullpen.
If the Giants reach the postseason, a well-rounded bullpen will be vital to advancing. During their three World Series Championship runs, we saw the bullpen had the perfect mix of everything.
On top of that, adding another veteran arm to a youthful bullpen could go a long way towards developing the younger arms. We saw Tim Lincecum be a lethal weapon out of the bullpen in 2014, which is similar to what Samadzija could do if moved into a similar role.
While a move to the bullpen might seem like a downgrade for Jeff Samardzija, it could end up being a win-win for all parties involved. But to put it more simply, it could just be a way to remake his career. Samardzija has had a solid career as a starter to this point, but everyone has to evolve and his evolution could be as a reliever. It could be the best way for him to help the SF Giants.