Giants’ Jeff Samardzija Has ‘evolved,’ in Midst of Dominant Stretch

[CSNBY] Giants' Jeff Samardzija has 'evolved,' in midst of dominant stretch
Ali Thanawalla

Jeff Samardzija has been on a roll ever since the calendar flipped from June to July, and the Giants starter kept the momentum going in his second start of August.

In the Giants' win over the Phillies on Saturday, Samardzija matched a season-high by completing eight innings. He allowed just two hits, one earned run and didn't walk any batters. He struck out five along the way.

With Samardzija at 103 pitches, manager Bruce Bochy went to closer Will Smith to get the final three outs, preventing his starter from picking up his first complete game of the season.

"No, we had Smitty ready," Bochy told reporters when asked if he thought about letting Samardzija have the ninth inning. "It was a pretty good day's work. Eight innings, little warm out there. Could he? Yeah, I'm sure, but we had it set up right."

In eight starts between July and August, Samardzija now has a 1.95 ERA.

After the Giants' 3-1 win, Bochy was asked if Saturday's outing was one of the best he's seen from Samardzija.

"It's right up there at the top," Bochy said. "He's in a really good place as far as commanding the ball, all four pitches, both sides of the plate, pitches up. That was just a great job of executing your pitches for eight innings. But I'd put that one toward the top."

Back in 2017, Samardzija had a 15-game stretch where he walked just five batters and struck out 103 in 97 innings. But his ERA during that span was 4.64.

Bochy believes this is one of the stretches of Samardzija's Giants tenure.

"I'd say, yeah," Bochy told reporters. "He had a good run a couple years ago where he was locked in and throwing the ball well. And you know what he went through last year. But I'd say with where he's at, he's evolved into a complete pitcher with the four-pitch mix that he uses and the command of them. He's got good savvy out there on what to throw. He and Buster work well together. I'd say this run here is probably as good as the one he had before."

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After an injury-plagued 2018 in which he was limited to just 10 starts, does Samardzija feel like he's back to his 2017-form?

"Different guy, but same confidence," Samardzija said. "Which feels good, you know, that you're going to go out there and get outs and make it nice in quick and get your offense in the dugout. For a while, it was such a grind just to go out there and get an out, it didn't feel good. You never forget that."

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