Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
September 1st. In baseball, that date means roster expansions and call-ups from the Minor Leagues. For the first place Baltimore Orioles, the call-ups included two relievers from Triple-A Norfolk: Evan Meek and Joe Saunders.
Meek has been up and down with the Orioles all season long. In 16 2/3 innings pitched with Baltimore, Meek had a 7.02 ERA with an 0-3 record to his name. Dispite a rough go in the Majors, he did pitch well with the Norfolk Tides in Triple-A ball. In 41 2/3 innings pitched with Norfolk, Meek had an impressive 1.94 ERA with 37 strikeouts and a 2-0 record. He also earned 16 saves in 16 save opportunities.
Meek appears to have two different sides to him: A solid, reliable reliever in the Minors and an unpredictable, liability in the Majors. Hopefully as October rolls around, Baltimore fans will see the reliable Meek take over out of the bullpen.
For Saunders, the switch from starter to reliever has been a great one. With the Tides, Saunders pitched 12 total innings after the Orioles signed him to a Minor League deal late in the season. In that short time, he established himself as a shutdown reliever. With a 1.50 ERA, Saunders has only given up two earned runs since being signed to Norfolk and has struck out eight batters as well.
The last time Saunders put on an Orioles jersey, he was preparing to start for Baltimore in the first-ever American League Wild Card Playoff Game. He went on to win the game and extend the Orioles magical 2012 season.
Hopefully, he and Meek will be able to help the Birds clinch their first American League East Division title since 1997.