Samardzija threw his curveball just over 2% of the time in 2019 and, if you look at the results, it is very clear why. Hitters slashed .400/.500/.800 off the pitch with a HBP and two hits in just 6 PAs. The pitch averages 76 mph but don’t expect Samardzija to throw it much in 2020.
The shark threw his four-seam fastball just over 27% of the time and averaged 92 mph with it. It has a good spin rate and can occaisionally get hitters to swing and miss with a 20.8% K%. 2019 was the first year where the results were above average, as he allowed hitters a wRC+ of 76 compared to his career average of 123. Look for the success to continue into 2020.
Similar to his fourseam, Samardzija’s cutter was very effective in 2019. He allowed hitters to only generate a wRC+ of 56 compared to a career average of 111. The pitch was thrown approximately 25% of the time and averaged 89 mph, but it will be interesting to see if Samardzija can maintain his 2019 success with it in 2020.
Samardzija throws his splitter just 7.7% of the time and it averages 82 mph. The pitch has good depth and fades slightly to the glove side, allowing it to slip under the bats of right-handed batters. In 2019, hitters went 11/42 off the pitch with 1 HR.
Samardzija is able to speed up and slow down his slider, as it ranged from 79 mph to 90 mph in 2019. Averaging 85 mph, he throws it 18% of the time and it has good horizontal movement with a chase% of 32%.
Samardzija is known for a deep repertoire, with his sinker getting more love than his four-seamer in 2018. With a healed shoulder, this may change in 2019 as the pitch was hit around frequently — it allowed a high .292 BAA and elevated .852 OPS.
As was a trend for most of Samardzija’s pitches in 2018, a massive dip in this pitch’s SwStr% (14.2% in 2017 down to 7.7% in 2018) caused a huge drop in pVal for this pitch. While only giving up a .189 AVG, the pitch also saw a huge spike in FB% (13.4% increase from 2017) and a bump in the HR/FB% (11.8% in 2017, 14.3% in 2018).
With a 4.9 SwStr%, Samardzija’s four-seamer generated half the whiffs it did in 2017 and its K% (25.0% in 2017, 4.8% in 2018) and BB% (6.8% in 2017, 28.6% in 2018) pretty much reversed themselves, possibly due to injury. Hopefully, with regained health, the pitch can return to form in 2019.
On the surface, it appears that this pitch was terrible in 2018, having given up a .538 AVG. However, a .700 BABIP in a 98-pitch sample size is unsustainable. With a 21.4 K%, 0.0 BB%, and a.077 ISO, there’s some signs that this pitch could rebound in 2019.
A positive pitch by pVal standards in 2017, Samardzija’s sinker was off the mark in an injury-marred season, registering a -.07 pVal in 2018. It averaged almost two mph lower velocity-wise in 2018 than in 2017 and ended up generating a 41.3 FB%, a near 15% increase from 2017, while also generating a near-9.4 BB% increase.