Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders AP

Joe Saunders is back with the Mariners


Left-hander Joe Saunders has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Mariners that includes an invitation to spring training.

Saunders was terrible for the Mariners in 2013, posting a 5.26 ERA in 183 innings, and then was even worse for the Orioles and Rangers last year with a 6.70 ERA.

In his prime Saunders was a decent middle-of-the-rotation starter who often got overrated by run support-fueled win-loss records, but now at age 34 he looks mostly like Triple-A depth or possibly a middle reliever.

Mariners showing interest in reunion with Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders Getty
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According to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune, the Mariners are showing interest in a reunion with veteran left-hander Joe Saunders.

Don’t freak out too much, Mariners fans. They are only looking at Saunders “as a bullpen possibility if he is willing to accept a minor-league contract.”

Saunders previously pitched for the Seattle in 2013 and posted an ugly 5.26 ERA and 107/61 K/BB ratio across 183 innings. We didn’t hear much from him last year, as he spent a large chunk of time in the minors and had a 6.70 ERA across eight starts and six relief appearances between the Orioles and Rangers. The Mariners hope to carry a second left-hander in their bullpen behind Charlie Furbush, so Saunders would be another name to throw in the mix.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 3, Tigers 0: Big Game James coms up big in a big game. In the rain. So he’s more like Big Rain Game James. Anyway, seven, two-hit shutout innings followed by Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis.

Braves 6, Nationals 2: Big Game Harang  . . . nah, that doesn’t work. But Aaron Harang did come up big for the Braves, helping them avoid a sweep, allowing one run over seven. Justin Upton drove in three. Brother B.J. homered off Stephen Strasburg. Which he’s done before. He should just be played in games against Stephen Strasburg, really. Who objects to that?

Orioles 10, Red Sox 6: Wei-Yin Chen was perfect into the sixth and by then he had a big bunch of run support so it was a particularly easy night for the O’s. Caleb Joseph homered and drove in three. Other than Joe Saunders melting down in the ninth — a situation he doesn’t see if the O’s aren’t up 10-1 — it was a pretty perfect day for Baltimore, who has won 11 of 14.

Pirates 6, Phillies 3: Andrew McCutchen hit a standup inside-the-park homer. As always, of course, if the outfielder plays it a tad differently or if the right or left fielder comes over to, you know, back him up some, it probably doesn’t happen, but we’ll let that go. McCutchen is hitting .311/.403/.539 on the year with 23 homers 75 driven in and he’s 17 for 19 in stolen bases. It’s gonna be really interesting to see the MVP vote.

Reds 4, Cardinals 2: Alfredo Simon allowed two runs over seven innings and hit two doubles, driving in a run. Both hits came on the first pitch he saw. Which, frankly, is what I think most pitchers should do. It’s likely the best pitch they’re gonna see in an at bat and it’s not like any pitcher these days outside of maybe Zack Greinke has the chops to adjust and outthink and do all of those things to get the best of major league pitching. In other news, allow me to remind you of my views on the designated hitter.

Mets 2, Rockies 0: Eric Young went 3 for 3 with a triple and Rafael Montero got his first win. No word if either of those two are married or if they have children and have become less aggressive since doing so.

Yankees 8, Rays 5: Down 4-0 after the top of the first you almost felt like the Yankees were gonna pack it in before they got started. Or at least their fans. Following Yankees games in real time on Twitter with my Yankees fan friends has become an exercise in pessimism lately. But the ballplayers haven’t given up. Mark Teixeira hit a triple. I don’t personally believe that, but it says so in the box score so it must’ve happened. Brain McCann homered and drove in three. He’s been on fire since September began. Doesn’t help salvage his season, but at least it’s something to grow on, maybe.

Brewers 4, Marlins 1: Wily Peralta gave up one earned run and five hits to help the Brewers snap their losing streak and win for just the second time in 15 games. Peralta also [altogether now] helped his own cause. In other news, allow me to remind you of my views on the designated hitter. Wait, I already did that.

Blue Jays 11, Cubs 1: Drew Hutchison registered 10 strikeouts in six and a third to help the Jays sweep. They outscored the Cubs 20-3 in those three games.

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 0: San Francisco keeps humming along, with the second straight domination of Arizona. The Snakes have lost five in a row and seven of nine and look like they’re already booking tee times for October.

Angels 8, Rangers 1: Albert Pujols was a homer short of the cycle. Which makes me wonder how much money would you win if you bet on both him and Teixeira hitting triples yesterday? I’m guessing someone would give you 50-1 odds on that. Maybe more. Matt Shoemaker allowed one run in six and two-thirds. The Angels pitching has actually improved since they lost Garret Richards for the season. Team-of-Destiny stuff.

Dodgers 4, Padres 0: Dan Haren pitched seven shutout innings. He’s turned his season around, too. After a craptastic July, Haren has allowed no more than one earned run in each of his last four starts, going 5-1 in his last seven and notching his 13th win of the year last night. Carl Crawford was 4 for 4 with three doubles and two driven in.

White Sox 2, Athletics 1: The A’s had a 1-0 lead behindJeff Samardzija’s seven shutout innings, but then Avisail Garcia drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in the eighth. It’s the third time in four games that the Athletics’ relievers blew a lead. Given that the Tigers and Mariners did too, it didn’t hurt them too bad, but the A’s need to figure something out.

Astros 5, Mariners 2: Jose Altuve had two hits, including an RBI double, to break a mini-slump and to notch his 200th hit of the season. After the game interim manager Tom Lawless said that Altuve joined a “small club” in reaching the milestone. I guess it’s small in the grand scheme. It does, however, have like 500 guys in it, so the club doesn’t tend to meet for dinners and things as it costs a lot to get a banquet hall that big.

Twins vs. Indians: POSTPONED: As a man I ain’t never been much for sunny days. I’m as calm as a fruit stand in New York and maybe as strange. But when the color goes out of my eyes its usually the change. But damn Sam I love a woman that rains.

Royals sign Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders AP

Released by the Rangers last week, left-hander Joe Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals and will report to Triple-A.

Saunders has repeatedly insisted on being viewed only as a starter despite having a 5.42 ERA in 40 starts since the beginning of last season and career-long platoon splits that suggest the 33-year-old could still fare well as a situational southpaw reliever.

Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes that the Royals indeed still view Saunders as a starter, but may also try to use him as a middle reliever down the stretch. For now he’ll try to impress in Omaha.

Rangers designate Joe Saunders for assignment

Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays

Joe Saunders talked himself back into the Rangers’ rotation last month following an injury, saying that he didn’t want to take on a bullpen role, but after going 0-5 with a 6.18 ERA in eight starts overall this season Texas has designated the left-hander for assignment.

Saunders was once a decent back-of-the-r0tation starter for the Angels and Diamondbacks, but he’s now 11-21 with a 5.42 ERA in 40 starts since the beginning of last season and coughed up four homers last night against the Orioles.

Given his platoon splits and overall ineffectiveness as a starter switching from the rotation to the bullpen could potentially prolong Saunders’ career, so it’ll be interesting to see if getting let go by the Rangers helps him recognize that at age 33.

In the meantime right-hander Miles Mikolas has been called up from Triple-A to take Saunders’ spot in the rotation and will start Wednesday.