The Baltimore Orioles acquired left-handed starting pitcher Joe Saunders from the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend. The deal gives Orioles manager Buck Showalter a veteran starter for the September stretch run, as the surprising Orioles battle for a playoff spot. Baltimore sent reliever Matt Lindstrom and a player to be named later to Arizona to complete the trade.
The deal for Saunders was a no-brainer for Baltimore's front office. Saunders is a free agent after the season, so the Orioles aren't tied to him long term. Saunders also brings extensive American League experience, having pitched for the Angels for parts of six seasons. Saunders' track record of American League success is reflected in his 54-32 record and 4.29 ERA as an Angel. He may not be an ace, but Saunders has more than held his own in the offensively charged AL. Baltimore has run out a bevy of young hurlers during this improbable season. Saunders gives the Orioles insurance in the event that Jason Hammel suffers a setback in his recovery from knee surgery, Wei-Yin Chen runs out of gas in his first big league season, or one of the young starters caves under the weight of meaningful games in September.
Lindstrom had a terrific first month for the Orioles after being acquired from Colorado in an offseason trade. Unfortunately, his season was derailed by a finger injury in early May. Lindstrom spent about six weeks on the disabled list. When he returned, Baltimore's bullpen hierarchy was well-established with Pedro Strop and Darren O'Day serving as Jim Johnson's primary setup men. Buck Showalter used Lindstrom in less pressurized situations as the season progressed.
Dan Duquette, Baltimore's VP of baseball operations, should receive high praise for the Saunders acquisition. He turned a superfluous middle reliever into an established starter who has both American League and playoff experience. The move for Saunders will allow Buck Showalter to move one his young starting pitchers to the bullpen to fill Lindstrom's role. Steve Johnson, who pitched an excellent game against the Blue Jays on Aug. 25, figures to be the odd man out.
*Information gathered from http://www.baseball-reference.com