Let me start with this, the Mets have improved their rotation a lot. Carlos Carrasco, Marcus Stroman and Joey Lucchesi are currently improvements in the rotation. Lucchesi could start in AAA if the Mets decide to add another arm for their Rotation (Walker/Odorizzi).
We have mentioned Walker and Odorizzi in earlier articles, so it’s down to look into lesser attractive pitchers. One name that came to mind is Jeff Samardzija, someone who was really solid in 2019, but is that enough to warrant him a shot?
Samardzija just turned 36 and is coming off a lost 2020 campaign. He made just 4 starts, pitching to a 9.72 ERA. Not pretty at all obviously but so many arms were lost during 2020. Samardzija battled some posterior rotator cuff inflammation in his right shoulder and got DFA’d by the Giants after his 4th start. In 2018, Samardzija also battled inflammation in his right shoulder as he struggled in that year as well.
While healthy in 2019, he was a very solid arm for the Giants. He made 32 starts and allowed just 152 hits in 181.1 innings and had just 2.4 walks per nine. Overall, he pitched to a very solid 3.52 ERA. He doesn’t strikeout a lot of hitters anymore but doesn’t walk many hitters, as well. All proof showing that he relies on his defense to make the plays behind him. That year he pitched to a 121 ERA+ and 1.10 WHIP.
Still, Samardzija relies a ton on contact outs and that’s something that is worrisome. Mainly because in that same year, he allowed below average exit velo and hard hit rate. Not a successful formula when you rely on contact.
In his great season in 2019, he had run value of minus 11 on the 4 seamer (28th in the Majors) and minus 12 on the cutter (4th in the majors). Those are great numbers, plus it is good to see his Fastball spin rate being in the 97th percentile.
Those are some promising results in 2019, however he hasn’t really done it in other seasons in his career. Although 181.1 innings isn’t a fluke year, it’s worrisome that it was his only year with this type of success with his fastball/cutter combo.
It is worth mentioning that Samardzija his fastball spin stayed at the top of the league in his small sample size 2020 season. So maybe he can return to his 2019 form? With all the red flags I doubt it and would like the Mets to stay away from the Shark.
Photo from ESPN