Samardzija solid in likely his final '15 start
White Sox right-hander facing free agency after tough campaign
CHICAGO -- Here's the prevailing theme hovering around Jeff Samardzija and his disappointing 2015 campaign with the White Sox.
The free agent to be might have cost himself a decent amount of money due to his struggles, taking him from near the David Price, Jordan Zimmermann and Johnny Cueto stratosphere on the open market to a level well below. But after throwing seven strong innings in what could be his final White Sox start -- a 4-2 victory over the American League Central champion Royals on Tuesday night -- Samardzija made one point perfectly clear.
The right-hander is not driven by the almighty dollar.
"I could care less. I had enough money when I signed with the Cubs back in '06," said Samardzija, after throwing 80 of his 111 pitches for strikes in Chicago's fourth straight win over Kansas City. "So, like I said before, for me it's more about a professional thing and respecting the guys that came before me that have put us in this situation in this game.
"To make the money we make, and have the fun we have, and travel the way we travel, that needs to be continued by players that are coming behind me and current players. For me, that's important. Ultimately, I want to be in a winning situation and pitching in October."
Samardzija won't be pitching in October this season, and he honestly acknowledged that his mound issues stand as one of the contributing factors for the White Sox coming up well short. In his last two starts, Samardzija allowed just two runs on nine hits over 16 innings while striking out nine, not issuing a walk and giving up two homers.
In his previous nine starts, covering 49 2/3 innings, Samardzija gave up 51 earned runs on 71 hits, not to mention walking 22 and yielding 12 homers against his 43 strikeouts. So what changed? It was a video session that resulted in a mechanics' adjustment, which Samardzija mentioned briefly after one-hitting the Tigers and explained in greater detail on Tuesday.
"It was just a simple fix with where my hands were, to tell you the truth," said Samardzija, who has gone to a three-ball count on just two of the last 58 hitters he faced. "They were getting away from my body, which was making me get around the ball and missing left and right, and up in the zone mostly.
"So, I brought my hands a little tighter and it kept me a little more in line to the plate, and we started throwing more strikes, more quality strikes. Started hiding the ball a little better and we got what we got."
Over the next five games, Samardzija will enjoy his remaining time with the White Sox and then focus on free agency. As to whether Samardzija could return, he certainly counts the South Siders as a winning situation despite their 74-83 mark.
"Absolutely. There's a lot of great pieces here, man. Great team," Samardzija said. "Had a great time this year. Just every time we got going, it seemed like it just went the other way. So it's about consistency."
"How next year goes, probably a lot is up to him," manager Robin Ventura said. "Again, this is probably his last start [of '15]."