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Joe Saunders Steadily Improving For Diamondbacks In 2011

Joe Saunders got off to a rough start for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011, and after eight starts was sporting an ERA of 5.48.

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In Saunders' last eight appearances, the tide has turned -- Saunders has given up only 18 runs in 54 innings, good for an ERA of 3.00 over that span.

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During that streak, Saunders has given the Diamondbacks the lead only to see the bullpen blow his strong start. In total, his record is 4-2 in the past eight starts.

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What can account for this big change? It can be somewhat attributed to the competition Saunders has faced -- in the first half of the year, Saunders had starts against Cincinnati, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and other interdivisional foes such as the Padres and Dodgers. Recently, he's pitched against Washington, Florida, and Kansas City. 

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Regardless, his improvement has given the Diamondbacks another strong arm in the starting rotation. The Dan Haren trade appears to be working out quite well for Arizona, and Tyler Skaggs hasn't even made it to the majors yet.

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