The Baltimore Orioles have named Joe Saunders as their starting pitcher for tomorrow evening’s all or nothing Wild Card Playoff game against the Texas Rangers. While Saunders hasn’t been as awful as we might have expected since he joined the Orioles at the end of August, he remains a left-handed pitcher whose repertoire and style don’t match up very well against right-handed batters.
This season, righty-hitters have put up a dangerous .349 OBP/.500 SLG/.359 wOBA against Saunders. To put this in perspective based on his numbers, he makes the average right-handed batter look like Albert Pujols (this season). In fact, Saunders has given up 21 home runs this season, all against bats on his right side. This should all be of interest because the Rangers lineup is sort of, kind of EXTREMELY right-handed-heavy, with only two regulars bothering to bat from the left side.
In fact, as a team this year, Texas had the highest wOBA against left-handed pitchers in the league. Of course, Baltimore wasn’t exactly flush with options after Chris Tillman pitched on Wednesday and Miguel Gonzalez went the night before. However, the only solace that Orioles fans will be able to take is that with Major League Baseball allowing teams to make one-game rosters for the Wild Card round of the playoffs, they should be able to stock their bullpen and keep Saunders on an incredibly short leash.
Here, we have a preview of the violence that might erupt in graphic form, comparing how right-handed Rangers have hit against southpaws (over the last two seasons), with how Saunders has pitched against right-handed batters (over the last three years) in weighted on base average.
The numbers are:
- Joe Saunders, RHB wOBA against: .353 (.296/.349/.479 with 64 HRs since 2010); and
- Rangers RHB (plus Yorvit Torrealba) wOBA: .360 (.300/.363/.490 with 75 HRs since 2011).
We’ve joked around with the #YOLOrioles meme, but given Saunders’ history, the team may only want to live once through Friday night’s punishment.