Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija has compiled an impressive list of accomplishments in 2013 and appears to have taken a step up toward the elite starters in the National League.

While his 8-12 record with a 4.33 ERA doesn’t seem impressive a look at the entire body of his work is essential for an objective analysis.

Samardzija has gone from bullpen setup man to one of the more impressive pitchers in the National League in three seasons. Consider that the former Notre Dame football star was one of just three pitchers in the league with 200 innings pitched and 200 strikeouts going into the last five days of the 2013 campaign.

The downside of the ledger has Samardzija allowing the second-most earned runs (100 ) and giving up the second-most walks (78) in the league. A lack of trust in all of his off-speed pitches and some occasional fastball inconsistency have altered the numbers a bit for the Cubs pitcher.

“I think fastball command for me is when you want to throw it in the zone you throw it in the zone” Samardzija said Wednesday. “I believe that I throw hard enough so it doesn’t always have to be a perfectly-placed pitch to get the job done. On the other hand if you are consistently missing on your location they will take advantage of it.”

The long ball has hurt Samardzija in middle-to-late innings this season costing him wins. He ranks fourth in homers allowed having given up 25.

“They all have been on my soft stuff” he said. “They all have been late in the count and they have been on off-speed pitches. I gave up one to Pedro Alvarez on a splitter after having shown him two or three splitters in the at-bat. A lot have been on splits and sliders. These have come many times after 80 to 100 pitches. I need to improve on that by bearing down mentally and realizing you can’t fall into a predictable trap or mode. You still have to trust your fastball even if you have thrown a lot of pitches in a game.”

Cubs manager Dale Sveum has seen Samardzija’s improvement as a highlight for the future of the pitcher and the ballclub.

“His season has been wrapped up toward the minus side in about eight of the 200 innings he has pitched” Sveum said. “That is all it took to change the ERA and some results. Those are the little things that happen when you start overthrowing and try to strike everyone out. Jeff has made great strides but he is still learning how to stay away from the big inning.”