Joe Saunders injury update and my thoughts on him


Mar 11, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers pitcher Joe Saunders (47) throws in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Rangers left-handed Joe Saunders is slowly making his way off the disabled list.  The Rangers placed him on the 15-day disabled list on April 7, retro to April 5, due to a bruised left-ankle that was caused by a line drive from the Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria.

Rehab setback: Saunders had been working to rehab his ankle this week.  On Monday he threw a bullpen session which went fine, but on Wednesday’s session where they were trying to ramp things up he felt discomfort and pain in his ankle.  An MRI was done on his ankle and revealed no structural damage but did show some bruising on the bone.

Rough start:  For those who have been following the Texas Rangers since spring training know that Saunders has had a very rough start.  During his first outing against the Chicago White Sox he only lasted for 28 pitches/3 innings.  It seemed like in that game he was pitching strikes, but everything was elevated and was hit hard.   He was charged with 6 hits and 3 earned runs.  His struggles with command and location continued throughout spring training.  He finished spring training with an ERA of 11.34 over 4 games (3 starts)/12.2 innings.   I was a bit surprised to see he made the Opening day rotation.  When it came down to it, it was probably between Tommy Hanson and Saunder making the rotation, and Saunders was the cheaper option.

His first start and only start so far as a Texas Ranger against the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t much different than spring training.  Saunders again had a lot of trouble with his command.  Every pitch seemed to be a struggle just to hurl it across the plate.  And like in spring training, when one was in the zone, it was elevated and hit hard.  He had to use a staggering 89 pitches to get through 3.2 innings of work and it would seem he would have at least finished the fourth, but the line drive off his left-ankle caused him to leave the game.  After allowing 6 hits, 5 run (4 earned) and walking three Joe Saunders day was done.

Is he done as a Rangers?  Probably not, at least at this point.  The Rangers still need starters because Derek Holland and Matt Harrison are still both out.  Harrison is getting close, but he has yet to have a really solid outing in the minors.  Also, Tanner Scheppers has had his struggles so far also, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Saunders get a spot start in his place to give him one more chance.  Should he get another start?  Yes, I think so.  Saunders is a good starting pitcher, he’s been about average through his career.  Right now, that’s all the Rangers need, just someone to get them through this hump until they can get some back of the disabled list.  Tanner Scheppers’ next start is today against the Mariners, there is no way he’ll pitch for him today.  but it could happen by his next start, especially if Scheppers struggles again today.