Today, the Phillies send Cliff Lee to the mound to face default Cubs’ #1 Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija was a two sport star at Notre Dame as a right-handed pitcher and as a wide receiver. At 6’5″, Samardzija made a great target at Notre Dame and he uses his large frame to live in the mid-90s, occasionally touching the high 90s, with his fastball.
Samardzija’s delivery is fairly standard but his arm comes in at about a 55 degree angle, adding a little deception. Samardzija’s hand does break toward the plate a little earlier than some but it is not early enough to really get a good read on what pitch he is throwing. Samardzija relies heavily on fastballs, mostly straight but throwing splitters and cutters, while going to his slider as his secondary pitch. Because of his arm angle, Samardzija’s slider breaks away from right-handed hitters harder and has been his most successful pitch.
Current Phillies hitters have rarely seen Samardzija despite Samardzija being a regular Major League pitcher since 2008. The Phillies who have seen him have hit .250/.292/.400 off of him, with Chase Utley having 4 extra base hits in 13 PA against the Shark. Samardzija has fairly even platoon splits (.247/.319/.375 v. righties, .245/.332/.420 v. lefties) so the Phillies would be best served sending out their best players instead of a platoon-heavy configuration. Look for someone to go yard off Samardzija today, however, as Samardzija has averaged nearly a homer per 9 IP over the last three seasons.