The Closing Situation

Brandon League has 4 losses in the last 4 games, a 7.31 ERA overall, 3.86 WHIP in the last seven games, and leaving pitches out on the middle of the plate. The Mariners' closer has gone from being praised for going 9 for 9 in save opportunities to an absolute disaster in 5 days.

After the walk-off in Cleveland, fans voiced their opinion over the airwaves saying League needs to be pushed back in the bullpen. I agree with that opinion and believe that League should sit down for a while or only be put in when the team is either losing or winning by more than three runs. He needs to increase his confidence, boost his composure, and mix up his pitches like he was in the beginning of the season.

For Carlos Peguero, yes, he should have caught that second hit over his head in left field. He completely misplayed the ball. The first double that flew past his glove was excusable. Nevertheless, these were line drives to left field and the blame should still fall on League. League left nearly all his pitches waist-high, on the outer half of the plate, and thrown over 94mph, allowing left-handed batters to blast the ball into the outfield. Where was the movement he had before? Why isn't he mixing up his pitches? These questions all need to be addressed.

The other controversial issue is that Eric Wedge should have left Doug Fister, who pitched a great game, in the 9th inning given that he threw 107 pitches. I don't agree with this opinion. Managers these days are practically programmed to take a starting pitcher out of the game when they reach triple digits on the pitch count. Players are heavily specialized now in the bullpen, you have pitchers you put in for emergency relief, setup roles, and closer. Starting pitchers play almost every 5th day and they do this from April to September excluding playoffs. I can understand that Wedge doesn't want to put more wear and tear on his starters and he should have the ability to put in a quality reliever to close the game. Brandon League had struggled the past few days and was coming off a walk-off loss in Baltimore, but Wedge wanted to show that he trusted League and that the team had not lost confidence in him. It was the right move, unfortunately though, the result couldn't have been much worse.

What do the Mariners and Eric Wedge do now? David Aardsma, following an MRI, is told he needs to rest for at least a month after opting out of surgery. The D.A. is not an option. The solution I believe Eric Wedge needs to go to is a closer by committee approach until he feels League is able to get back on track. On 710 ESPN Seattle, Chris Ray's name was coming up as a possible candidate to close. In no way should Ray be allowed to pitch late in close games. He has an 11.88 ERA with 11 earned runs in 8 innings. The Mariners have Jamey Wright (1.96 ERA) and David Pauley (1.16 ERA) available in the bullpen and I would love to see them get the chance to close out games while League gets demoted for as long as needed. The starting pitchers don't deserve to lose these games after the quality starts they're putting up.

So, looking into the future, I would expect a closer by committee approach and for Mike Wilson to possibly get more time in left field as he has shown some good range in the few innings he's played.

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Brandon League's 2011 season stats

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