Is Joe Saunders ready for the rotation


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

Normally the headline “Texas Rangers pitcher Joe Saunders ready for the rotation” would probably scare readers, but right now people are probably ready to welcome him back.  With all of the recent injuries to the club, and especially with pitcher, the Rangers need some fresh arms to join the club.

By now hopefully Saunders one game with the Rangers is now a distant memory.  He has only appeared in one game as a Texas Rangers.  He pitched on April 4, against the Tampa Bay Rays and was hit hard the whole game.  Over 3.2 innings he gave up 6 hits 5 runs (4 earned), walked 4 and only struck out 3.  He would have probably pitched more, but he took a line drive off of his foot.

Watch the liner that sidelined Joe Saunders

Since then Saunders has spent time on the disabled list and has been doing a couple of rehab assignments.  His first rehab assignments were with double-A Frisco.  He pitched 2 games/9.1 innings, 3.80 ERA, gave up 26 hits, 10 runs (9 earned), 7 walks, struck out 14 and a .317 opposing batters average.

After his last outing with Frisco Saunders thought he was ready and even commented to reporters after the game about it.  But Jon Daniels pretty much said slow down, we still need to see more.  With a .317 opposing batters average it is easy to understand why.  His ERA could have easily been higher, much higher.

Saunders was moved up to triple-A Round Rock for another couple of rehab assignments.  In the last game he pitched there he lasted 7 innings, gave up 1 earned run, 8 hits, walked 2 and and struck out 1.  Again, not a bad line of stats, but again his opposing batters average was high at .320 and he only struck out 1 batter.

Again after the game Joe Saunders told reports that he’s ready to join the Rangers.

"“What else do they want me to do?” Saunders said Thursday. “I can’t imagine where another start would be in the picture.”   (Jeff Wilson – Star Telegram)“I feel like I’m ready to go,” he said. “I feel like I can contribute to this team.” (Jeff Wilson – Star Telegram)"

Normally it would be easy to tell Saunders again he is not ready for the starting rotation and to hold off and wait.  His stats do seem to show he’s ready to move up.  He has an ERA of 2.25 with only allowing 3 earned runs and striking out 8, but he’s allowed a ton of hits and walks.  Also, his opposing batting average .319 didn’t go down in triple-A, it went up.

But right now this Texas Rangers team cannot afford to wait any longer, they need starting pitchers.  With Derek Holland still out and not likely to return until late June, and the loss of Matt Harrison and Martin Perez, this team needs pitchers who can burn through some innings.

Hopefully Saunders will be able pitch well enough to keep them in the game.  If Saunders does move to the starting rotation then that would likely mean that Scott Baker or Nick Martinez would remain in the bullpen as long relievers.