Jeff Samardzija has been one of the best strikeout pitchers in Major League Baseball this season.
The San Francisco Giants righty has a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Clayton Kershaw, trails just Chris Sale and Chris Archer in total punchouts and is carrying a career-best number for strikeouts per nine innings.
“For a big guy known as a power-type pitcher, he has remarkable command,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters.
The stat that’s been harder to come by for Samardzija is wins, which reflects more poorly on his teammates than himself. Before Monday’s start against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Giants provided the Shark with an average of 2.8 runs of support an outing, tied for the second-fewest in the National League. That led to a 1-7 start.
In the series opener — which the Giants won, 7-2 — at Miller Park on Monday, Samardzija was able to have it all.
After struggling in the first inning, when Milwaukee put a pair of runs on the board, Samardzija was nearly unhittable. He retired the next 17 batters he faced before working around a double in the seventh inning.
For most of the contest, though, the San Francisco lineup struggled to put runs on the board. Aaron Hill broke that up in the top of the eighth with a two-run double. They piled on another three in the ninth before Mark Melancon closed the game with a 1-2-3 frame.
Samardzija lasted 7.2 innings in the contest, striking out 10 without walking anyone. Through the month of May and one start in June, he’s issued just one free pass.
“I’m a pretty excitable guy and I like to throw hard but it takes some time to learn that you have to get your body in the right position to throw hard with action and where you want it,” Samardzija explained to reporters.