Originally written on Oregon Sports News  |  Last updated 11/18/14
Mlb-mariners-orioles-may

Brandon League’s struggles couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Seattle Mariners.  League has four blown saves and owns a 4.18 ERA on the season. He has also issued 13 walks in only 28 innings. League has lost his job as closer to righty Tom Wilhelmsen.

The Mariners hope League gets his control problems under control and he regains his elite closer status that awarded him to the All-Star team last season.  During the offseason, the Mariners resigned League to a one-year $5 million contract.

The Mariners are habitually a couple of seasons away from contending for the playoffs.  League was going to be traded away to the highest bidder as the trade deadline approaches next month.

League has been pitching in middle relief since the demotion but now will be shifted to the set-up roll because hard throwing rookie Stephen Pryor landed on the disabled list with a pulled groin on Tuesday.

Baseball is a game that gives opportunity for redemption because of the 162-game schedule and League will be given just that. He is also in a contract year so there are millions of dollars at stake.

New closer Tom Wilhelmsen is thriving in his new role.  He has recorded three saves and has a 4 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. Wilhelmsen factors in the Mariners’ long-term plans as their closer or set-up man.

The closer role is an unusual position in baseball.  They only pitch with the game on the line and if they fail, their team loses.  The shelf life of elite closers are usually 3-5 seasons. League is currently in that window and he needs to get back on track before it is too late.

If League flourishes in his new role as the set-up guy to Wilhelmsen, it will be interesting to see what Manager Eric Wedge does with his pitching assignments late in the game as the season progresses.

Closers have more value in trades than set-up pitchers. Does Wedge return league to the closer role, hoping he can string together 5-10 saves then deal him? Or does he keep the status quo and try to put the best combination out there to win ball games?

The next month will be interesting for the Mariners. They are playing better and scoring more runs.  Last week they had a six pitcher combined no-hitter that both Wilhemsen and League pitched in.

Lets hope that League regains his old self and pitches like an All-Star and GM Jack Zduriencik gets a few prospects that will factor in the Mariners’ long-term plans.

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