Orioles pick Joe Saunders as Wild Card playoff game starter

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UPDATE: Sure enough, the Orioles just announced that they’re going with Saunders over Johnson against the Rangers. Showalter indicated that Johnson’s knee injury played a factor in the decision.

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Yu Darvish will start the Wild Card playoff game for the Rangers, but the Orioles remain undecided on who they’ll have on the mound. Or at least manager Buck Showalter hasn’t made his choice public yet.

It will either be left-hander Joe Saunders, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks on August 26, or right-hander Steve Johnson, a 25-year-old rookie who made just four regular season starts.

Based on experience and track record Saunders would be the obvious pick and he’s pitched pretty well since joining the Orioles with a 3.63 ERA and 23/8 K/BB ratio in 45 innings. On the other hand the Rangers are a very right-handed heavy lineup aside from Josh Hamilton and led the league in OPS versus left-handed pitching. Not surprisingly Saunders has pretty brutal career numbers versus Texas.

Johnson was excellent in 38 innings split between the rotation and bullpen, posting a 2.11 ERA and 46/18 K/BB ratio, but he’s been dealing with some knee problems and … well, trusting an unheralded rookie with four career starts in the team’s first playoff game in 15 years would certainly be a gutsy call by Showalter.

Apparent roster snafu changes Blue Jays pitching plans

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ATLANTA — An apparent roster snafu forced the Toronto Blue Jays to change their pitching plans for Thursday night’s game at the Atlanta Braves.

After Nate Pearson gave up three runs in five innings, manager Charlie Montoyo brought in right-hander Jacob Waguespack to open the sixth.

As Waguespack walked to the mound, he was greeted by home plate umpire Alan Porter, who apparently delivered some bad news: The right-hander wasn’t on the 28-man active roster for the game.

The Blue Jays optioned Waguespack and infielder Santiago Espinal to the team’s alternate training site on Thursday to reach the 28-man roster limit.

Montoyo told reporters before the game Waguespack had been recalled when right-hander Trent Thornton was placed on the 10-day injured list with right elbow inflammation. That move apparently was not processed, leaving Waguespack off the active roster.

Waguespack walked to the dugout and Montoyo brought in Rafael Dolis as the official replacement for Pearson.