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.

Zac Rosscup throws immaculate inning, lands on DL

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A day after throwing an immaculate inning — getting through an inning on three consecutive strikeouts with nine pitches — against the Mariners, Dodgers reliever Zac Rosscup was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left calf strain. The move made room on the 25-man roster for Kenley Jansen, who is back after missing some time due to an irregular heartbeat.

Rosscup pitched the ninth inning of Sunday’s 12-1 win over the Mariners. He struck out Kyle Seager, Ryon Healy, and Cameron Maybin on three pitches each. Rosscup is the fourth pitcher to throw an immaculate inning this season, joining Kevin Gausman, Max Scherzer, and German Marquez. 2018’s four immaculate innings is still far behind 2017’s record of eight.

Rosscup has pitched only 6 2/3 innings in the majors this year. He has yielded five runs (all earned) on seven hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts. He missed a significant amount of time earlier this season due to a blister on his left middle finger.