Oct 5, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Joe Saunders (48) celebrates defeating the Texas Rangers in the 2012 American League wild card playoff game at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: Joe Saunders Back In The Mix...*Gulp*

The Orioles were rumored to have a deal for Joe Saunders wrapped up, especially after just giving up two runs in 11.2 postseason innings.  But it still hasn’t happened, perhaps because he could be holding out for a three-year deal.   That’s three years that the O’s aren’t interested in giving him, it’s hard to believe anyone else will either although the Yankees and Rangers may want to at least consider it after his postseason performance against them.

Presumably the Pittsburgh Pirates have a bit of cash to spend since news of the Francisco Liriano deal going south the familiar name has re-surfaced.  It seems the Bucs are hell bent on adding a left-hander as we’ve heard of several this offseason the most prominent being  Chris Capuano, Felix Doubront, and now, once again the 6’3″ left-hander.

It’s not really a surprise that his best numbers of the year (over 10IP) came against the Buccos.  Two wins, fourteen innings, three runs and of course eight strikeouts.  Now, the 31-year old didn’t have near the success against the rest of the division.  Hence the *gulp* above, but let’s focus on the good stuff right now.

Ken Rosenthal tweeeted a few weeks ago that Saunders was talking to several teams:

Sources: Saunders talking to #Orioles, #Padres, #Mariners. #Pirates also had been in, presumably out with addition of Liriano.

The 31-year old has been around the big leagues for eight years. The (insert nickname here) southpaw lives in the high 80’s with his fastball, his changeup isn’t anything special, the curveball isn’t knee buckling, yet somehow he was solid for the Baltimore Orioles during their impressive stretch run. The often hittable Virginia Tech product was able to hold bad guys to just above three-and-a-half runs over seven big time starts.

Saunders held the high powered Texas Rangers to just one-run in the American League Division Series Wild Card game. The Rangers chased pitches out of the zone and for 5.2 innings couldn’t do much against Saunders who was able to keep the ball on the ground and spot his curveball. Watching the game reminded me of a Paul Maholm start. ( A good one)

The Yankees couldn’t do any better in Game 4, when the Saunders scattered three hits over 5.2  innings of one-run ball, striking out five. Buck sure was thrilled with the effort, especially with that wicked hook on this chilly October night.

In fact the career numbers since 2008 are similar to Paul Maholm. Saunders has 117 GDP, 156 GS, and a 104 ERA+. The lefty strikes out about five batters per game over 1,100 innings.

Maholm had a solid year last season after leaving Pittsburgh.  Saunders pitched well in the American League, now it looks like it will just come down to the money.   One warning sign for us was the numbers Saunders put up against the NL Central.

Only the Bucs were baffled.

Even the Astros got some knocks.  Over the past three seasons against Saunders, the Cubs scored 12 runs via 24 hits over 18.2 innings.   The Reds pounded out 27 hits off Saunders in 22.1 innings as they plated 15 runs.  The Brewers knocked him around for eight runs in 12.2 innings pitched, but the Cardinals owned Saunders.  The Redbirds crushed five bombs, 11 runs and 17 hits against him in 14.1 innings.

Now, we don’t read a lot into that…but damn that still worrries me.   Can’t someone just sew Liriano’s arm back on?  Stay tuned.


Tags: Pittsburgh Pirates

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