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Let’s look at the following numbers for Jeff Samardzija in 2017:
24.2 percent strikeout rate (second-best of his career)
3.8 percent walk rate (best of his career)
Over 200 innings for the fifth straight season
205:32 K/BB ratio (8.9 K/9, 1.4 BB/9)
Based on the above, you’d assume a pretty good season. But Samardzija went 9-15 with a 4.42 ERA for the San Francisco Giants last season. Pitching for a bad team with a lack of run support, a strand rate (67.5 percent) below his career mark (70.7 percent) and elevated home run related peripherals (1.3 HR/9, 36.5 percent fly ball rate, 13.8 percent HR/FB rate) all contributed to the separation between Samardzija’s advanced numbers and what the traditional numbers showed.
But a surge in home runs allowed was hardly unique to Samardzija in 2017, and he allowed an American League-leading 29 home runs in 2015 with the Chicago White Sox. And 22 of the 30 home runs he allowed last year came on the road, including seven allowed over four starts (22.2 innings) in the most hitter-friendly road venues in the NL West (Coors Field and Chase Field).
A simple correction back toward his career peripherals will bring some improvement for Samardzija in 2018. The Giants have also added Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria to their lineup this offseason, so run support should be less of an issue.
Samardzija’s average draft position is rising a bit, but he’s still just the 36th starting pitcher off the board and the 141st overall pick on average right now via Fantasy Pros. That’s remarkable value for a guy you can pretty much book for 32 or 33 starts and 200 innings. An ERA below 4.00 is in the cards this year, along with 10-15 wins, so Samardzija is a solid No. 2 or No. 3 fantasy starter to target at an ADP that is unlikely to ever catch up to that.