Joe Saunders seemed to know Monday night, in the aftermath of a third straight rocky start, that he and the Texas Rangers had reached an impasse.
If he didn’t know it then, he found out Tuesday afternoon.
Saunders was designated for assignment a day after allowing four homers and seven runs in a 7-1 loss to the Orioles. Miles Mikolas, a reliever-turned-starter at Triple A Round Rock, will replace Saunders in the rotation and make his first big-league start Wednesday at Camden Yards.
With the Rangers in development mode, Saunders was occupying a spot that would be better served with a potential piece for 2015 filling. Mikolas can’t do much worse than Saunders, who leaves with an 0-5 record and a 6.13 ERA in eight starts.
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“From the very outset he was confident that he could help us win some games,” assistant general manager Thad Levine said. “I’m quite certain this go as well as he had hoped.”
Enter Mikolas, whose final six appearances at Round Rock were as a starter, and he posted a 3-1 record with a 3.58 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
The Rangers put him into the rotation as soon as they could to avoid him gathering any rust sitting around for the Saunders spot to come up again. Yu Darvish will pitch Thursday on normal rest, and fellow right-handers Nick Tepesch, Colby Lewis and Nick Martinez will pitch this weekend at New York.
Mikolas would then start again Monday to open a seven-game homestand.
“This isn’t a spot start. He’s going into the rotation,” Levine said. “We understand this is a work in progress. We’re expecting to see a full repertoire when he gets up here.”
Pitching coach Mike Maddux said that Mikolas has added a slider to a repertoire that includes a fastball, curveball and changeup. Acquired in the off-season as a hard-throwing reliever, Mikolas’ style evolved into more of a starter’s profile.
“He’s adjusted to the job description pretty quickly,” Maddux said. “We’re looking for someone to step up, and he’s getting the opportunity to do it.”