Brandon League: The Public Defender

After watching some of the futile games this last weekend, there seems to be an unsung hero on the Seattle roster.  Who?  None other than Brandon League.

The theme of the season is OPS.  No one has it.

Seattle always loses close games and tie games.  Seattle loses almost every game that goes into extra innings, and Seattle loses almost every game where there is a close score.   These games are embarrassing and they have been the tone for the season.  The fans and the team always find themselves hoping for big hits that will never come.

In these games, Brandon League is usually the man of the hour.  He is always leveraged to pitch through the nastiest part of the opponent’s lineup, and then he is often forced to pitch extra innings when the score is tied.  He does this, without notice, on back to back days, all year long without complaining.

The man is proving respectable numbers when leveraged into these awful situations.  The highlights are a 3.64 ERA and a 1.2 WHIP.  Now, these aren’t the flashiest numbers in the game, but consider how demoralizing it must be to do League’s work.  The fans will not appreciate him, because the team will lose.  He will not get a save or a win.  No matter how many innings of perfect baseball he pitches, the Mariners will not score and will lose in extra innings.  I have watched too many games where the good part of the Seattle lineup is tamely dealt with by the opposition, and then League is inserted to keep the game going.  If he pitches well, then the hitting is given another chance to fail and he has to pitch extra innings.  If he pitches poorly, then the night is over, and everyone can go home and forget the game ever happened.

Now, let us talk about League’s weaknesses:  He throws the sinker ball and the fork ball.  If the sinker is being thrown for strikes, he is having a good night.  The sinker is a formula for sustained success, but it is not unhittable.  He has mediocre control.  He is like Felix without the curveball.  He makes the best of what he has, and he never psychologically cracks.

We generally think highly of ordinary men who are tough, and are sent to prosecute hopeless positions, against long odds, and without any support.  The 300 Spartans, the Alamo, the Japanese stand at Iwo Jima all are remembered as the most heroic kind of event: the last stand.  The men who fought these events give us inspiration to lose well.  League is the face of the Mariners’ last stand, and he is under the lights in close losing games when the rest of the team is allowed to slink into the dugout and eat sunflower seeds and chew tobacco.

If David Aardsma is the D.A., then Brandon League is certainly the Public Defender.  He doesn’t pick his battles but he always fights them.



Now, consider that Brandon Morrow is still flaky.  He still walks everyone, he puts up a bad ERA and in general would not have been the M's fourth best starter on the year.  He does put up a mean strikeout total though.
So, the Ms. traded someone who was flashy and ineffective for someone who was less flashy but more effective.  However, League still has some sizzle.  If you look at the raw pitches, League has some nasty ones.  He is doing something right when a 98 mph four seam fastball is his third best pitch.


Since May 16, Brandon Morrow has pitched 72 innings, striking out 73 and walking 23, for a K/9 of 9.13 and a BB/9 of 2.88, numbers that could win a Cy Young.  He's walked more than 3 only once in those last 12 games and gone 6 or more innings in 9 of them and 7 or more innings 4 times.  His ERA in that span has been a solid 3.75.  I think it's safe to say he's figured it out.  That's not to say I'm necessarily dissapointed in Brandon League, but I think it's safe to say we lost that trade pretty badly.


I stand corrected.  I hope Morrow does turn into a great player.  We could certainly use a guy with those kind of numbers with Cliff Lee gone.
If he was here, we wouldn't have League.  We would be stuck with the DA and a bunch of other suspect characters.  That might have demoralized the starting pitchers.  Further, the M's have started winning extra-inning games as of late, two in a row!!!, which inflates League's importance.
Notice in last night's game, they played the DA after Felix, so they could save League for the long haul.  Side note: I don't think Felix has ever pitched better.  Were any of his pitches more than 1 inch above the strike zone? Were any below it?

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