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Shark 'pretty proud' of strong comeback season

@mi_guardado
September 26, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy admits that he didn’t expect this type of season from Jeff Samardzija. “I’ll be honest,” Bochy said. “It’s a little bit of a surprise.” Samardzija entered the season as one of the Giants’ biggest unknowns after missing a significant chunk of last season with a

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy admits that he didn’t expect this type of season from Jeff Samardzija.

“I’ll be honest,” Bochy said. “It’s a little bit of a surprise.”

Samardzija entered the season as one of the Giants’ biggest unknowns after missing a significant chunk of last season with a right shoulder injury. He arrived at Spring Training healthy after a winter of rehab, but questions remained about his durability and his ability to provide consistent production out of the rotation.

Remarkably, Samardzija managed to deliver on both fronts in 2019.

The 34-year-old veteran put the finishing touches on an impressive comeback season by firing six shutout innings in Wednesday night’s 2-1 win over the Rockies.

One year after posting a 6.25 ERA over 10 starts, Samardzija emerged as arguably the Giants’ most consistent starter, providing crucial stability at the top of San Francisco’s rotation alongside left-hander Madison Bumgarner. After holding the Rockies to only five hits while walking one and striking out five, Samardzija finished his 2019 campaign with a 3.52 ERA over 181 1/3 innings.

His ERA drop of 2.73 is the largest of any starting pitcher who had at least 40 innings pitched in each of the last two seasons, according to Sports Info Solutions, a feat that should put him in the conversation for National League Comeback Player of the Year.

“All things said, where we were last year, absolutely I’m pretty proud of it,” Samardzija said. “We’ll just repeat that offseason again and pretty much stick to the book. Add a little more to it since we’re not necessarily recovering, stay strong and look forward to next year.”

Samardzija did not miss a single turn in the rotation this season, a testament to the work he put in over the offseason rebuilding the strength in his right shoulder. The Giants were initially cautious with Samardzija’s workload early in the year -- he completed more than six innings only once in his first nine starts -- but the reins began to loosen once he showed he could handle more innings.

“This is a strong man and a very determined man,” Bochy said. “We did monitor his workload in Spring Training and the early part of the season. I was going out to get him early. I just wanted him to take some time to build some arm strength because he missed so much time the previous year. Then he ends up being the horse that he is. It’s really impressive, I think, that he’s bounced back. Not just the body of work, but the quality of work that he’s given us.”

Gott update

The Giants announced that right-hander Trevor Gott underwent left groin surgery Thursday morning in Philadelphia. Gott, 27, was placed on the injured list with a right elbow injury last month but had also been bothered by a persistent groin issue throughout the season.

“He just couldn’t quite shake it,” Bochy said. “He’d get better, then he’d reinjure it. It’s a tough deal for a pitcher, with the stride, so he had surgery. It went well.”

Gott will spend the next six weeks recovering from the surgery, but he is expected to be ready to go for Spring Training.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.