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Game Notes: Archer vs Samardzija

Shark bait ooh ha ha

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The upcoming free agent class is chock-full of top-of-the-rotation starting pitching. Unless they agree on an extension with their respective teams, David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmerman, and Jeff Samardzija, among others, are set to hit the open market upon the conclusion of the 2015 season.

Front offices will weigh their options, fanbases will dream of the possibilities, and the agents of the players will salivate their imminent payday. While Price, Cueto, and Zimmerman have begun their seasons with performances worthy of mega-contracts, Samardzija has accumulated the worst numbers of his career as a starting pitcher.

In his first twelve starts of the 2015 season, the right hander has posted a 4.93 ERA and a 3.98 FIP in 80 ⅓  innings. Samardzija has allowed five earned runs or more in five game this season, including his last two starts in which he gave up 15 earned runs in 12 ⅓ innings of work.

Samardzija will look to find his form against Chris Archer and the Tampa Bay Rays in today's afternoon matchup at Tropicana Field. Archer, the reigning American League Player of the Week, has struck out 26 batters in his last two starts. In his last 15 innings of work, Archer has only allowed one earned run.

First pitch is at 4:10.

The Book on Jeff Samardzija

Fourseam 94.69 mph 18.67% vs RHH / 18.15% vs LHH Sporadic; though he often throws it low and away. Outer third of the strike zone, under the knees, or up and away.
Sinker 95.14 mph 28.16% vs RHH / 18.80% vs LHH Often out of the strike zone, inside. Outer half of the plate; up and away out of the strike zone.
Slider 84.71 mph 29.43% vs RHH / 15.07% vs LHH Either low and away or up and in. Sporadic.
Cutter 93.02 mph 19.15% vs RHH / 31.60% vs LHH Sporadic. Sporadic.
Split 85.92 mph 4.27% vs RHH / 16.37% vs LHH Low and away. Under the knees or up and away. 

Samardzija has lost one mile per hour on his fourseam fastball and nearly two and a half miles per hour on his slider compared to last season. The effectiveness of these pitches have suffered as a result.

In 2014, while pitching for the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland Athletics, Samardzija's best pitch was his slider as batters hit only .225 and slugged a mere .355 when the pitch was thrown. However, in 2015, batters have hit .308 and slugged .487 off of Samardzija's slider. The Shark has already surrendered three home runs with the pitch this season, matching his 2014 total.

Surrendering the long ball has been Samardzija's achilles heel this season, as the former Notre Dame wide receiver has already seen 11 of them leave the park. His 1.23 HR/9 rate is easily the highest of his career as a starter.

Not only has Samardzija featured a career-low ground ball rate (37.5%) but his fly ball (36.7%) and line drive (25.9%) rates have both never been higher as a starter.

Today's Lineups

J.B. Shuck - CF Kevin Kiermaier - CF
Alexei Ramirez - SS Joey Butler - DH
Jose Abreu - DH Evan Longoria - 3B
Adam LaRoche - 1B David DeJesus - LF
Avisail Garcia - RF Steven Souza - RF
Melky Cabrera - LF Asdrubal Cabrera - SS
Gordon Beckham - 3B Jake Elmore - 1B
Carlos Sanchez - 2B Nick Franklin - 2B
Geovany Soto - C Curt Casali - C
Jeff Samardzija - RHP Chris Archer - RHP

--Curt Casali was recalled from Triple-A and will get his first start of the season behind the dish for the Rays.

--Mikie Mahtook was optioned to Triple-A.

--Logan Forsythe gets the day off against a pitcher who he is 0 for 10 against in his career. Nick Franklin gets the start.

Bullpen Availability

Pitcher Wednesday Pitch Count Thursday Pitch Count Friday Pitch Count
Brad Boxberger 15 7 -
Xavier Cedeno - 13 20
Steve Geltz 14 - 12
Brandon Gomes - 12 18
Kevin Jespen 20 26 -
Jake McGee 13 - 14
C.J. Riefenhauser - - -
Enny Romero - - -

Other Rays' Notes

--Happy 26th birthday to Drew Smyly!

--He even got to play catch on his special day: