Joe Saunders, Back In the AL

Phoenix, AZ, USA; Former Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Joe Saunders (34) throws against the Miami Marlins in the first inning at Chase field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE

Joe Saunders often gets laughed at by baseball fans, since he was lauded for his win totals while with the Angels, but there's a solid pitcher here. He's not the sexiest option around, and isn't going to strike out batter after batter, but he has a history of getting the job done for 200 innings at a time. There's value in that, even in fantasy leagues. Albeit deeper leagues.

Saunders is back in the AL after a two-plus year absence, when he pitched for the Diamondbacks. Saunders posted a 3.96 ERA and 105 ERA+ in his 424 innings for Arizona, many of them coming in the D'backs hitter-friendly home park. While a Diamondback, Saunders struck out over twice as many hitters as he walked, with a little help from the pitchers of the NL. For his career, Saunders has pitched to an opposing hurler 135 times in his career, and limited them to a .110/.124/.134 line.

Saunders won't be facing any pitchers while with Baltimore, and while that's not going to make him outright bad, it does change his value slightly from what you've come to expect over the last 67 starts of his career. Saunders is an arm that's more useful in real life than in fantasy, unless your league happens to count innings. Leaving hitter-friendly Arizona could help, but he also leaves the soft cushion that is the NL, can't face pitchers anymore, is replacing those with designated hitters, and, to top it off, Camden Yards is quite the hitter's haven, too.

Saunders has to face the Yankees in his first start [Edit: Saunders had to face the White Sox; I got ahead of myself on this one], and while he's left-handed, it's also the Yankees. There are times where Saunders is a useful pitcher -- more so than people think -- but this likely is not one of them. That's not the same as saying it's impossible he'd throw a good game in the AL East, but betting heavily on it isn't advised.

Saunders is worth a grab, but just make sure to check his match-ups before committing to him each time out.

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