Joe Saunders was excellent tonight, and the Angels provided more than the scraps of offense they've dished out lately, helping Saunders improve to 6-3. But he's pitched more this year than he ever has, and it shows. He needs extra rest, or he gets shelled. What do I mean? Look at his ten starts since being recalled in August:
*Extra day of rest between starts.
So that breaks down as follows:
1) In his four starts with extra rest, he's had three quality starts and was an out short of a fourth, with an ERA of 0.98.
2) In his six starts on normal rest, he's had three quality starts, with an ERA of 8.26.
3) In his last three starts on normal rest, as he pushes into his largest ever workload, he's had no quality starts, and allowed 22 runs in 8.1 innings for an ERA of 23.76.
In other words, thank God there's an off day before he makes his next start. But at this rate, he's scheduled to pitch on the next to last day of the season, with no extra day of rest. Should it matter, that's a scary thought for Angels fans and a comforting thought for A's fans. Still, I'm not sure what other options they'd have. He faces Texas next, and Volquez gets that start for the Rangers. He's been solid lately, though he got kind of hammered tonight. The Angels only hope would be to blow Volquez out early, and get Saunders a big lead after five innings so the Angels can sit him down after about 75 pitches. Problem is the Angels offense has shown a proclivity for scoring a lot of runs lately, and on normal rest, Saunders has provided PLENTY of opportunities in his first 75 pitches for opponents to basically rip the crap out of him. And quite frankly, if Saunders IS going good through five, I don't trust Scioscia and Black to do the analysis above and yank him after 75 pitches anyway.
Oh well, probably won't matter, and if does, it looks pretty bad for the Angels in that penultimate game. But damn, I'd sure like to find out.