Back in March, there were still questions about whether Jeff Samardzija could successfully transition into a starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. The lanky right-hander served mostly as a long-duty reliever in 2011 and while he found a good deal of success in that role, his considerable talent wasn’t being fully utilized.
His 2012 Spring Training results were good, though not spectacular. He won three of his five appearances, but he also gave up ten earned runs over 20 innings pitched. Most importantly, however, Samardzija only walked one batter to 16 strikeouts. This progress, along with the sizable Spring eggs that both Alberto Cabrera and Travis Wood laid helped manager Dale Sveum and staff to give Samardzija the nod.
And Samardzija did his part to make them look pretty smart. April was a bit of a mixed bag with a couple of stinkers book-ended by a pair of gems, but in May he really settled in, holding batters to just a .218/.282/.380 line. Over his first ten starts, Samardzija had a 3.09 ERA, 9.14 K/9, a 2.67 BB/9 rate, and although he had only five wins, the Cubs had won seven of those ten starts. Samardzija had pitched seven innings or more in five of his ten starts and he was beginning to emerge as a legitimate pitcher to fear in the National League.
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