There seems to be a misconception floating around right now that Brandon League is pitching poorly and costing this team games. Granted, it has been easy to use him as the scape goat lately, as he has been the guy who’s happened to give up the crushing blow a few times lately, but he’s really the least of our problems.
Firstly, he’s making good pitches – they’re just getting hit. If a guy gives up a big single on a tough pitch, you just have to tip your hat to the hitter, but you really can’t fault the pitcher. For example, here’s Reid Brignac’s RBI single in the 8th today:
And here’s Luke Scott’s grand slam in the 8th on Thursday:
As you can see, both hits came on pitches well off the plate, and both were in good locations. You can’t fault League for either of these occurrences – he made good pitches, he just got beat, and that’s going to happen. When you just look at the results, sure, it’s going to look like he’s struggling a lot right now, but that’s the problem with results based analysis. Most of the time, when he makes good pitches, he’s going to be rewarded – that just isn’t happening right now.
There are a couple other things I want to put to rest as well. First off, I’ve seen some complaints that League is walking a lot of guys. I’m not completely sure where that’s coming from, but it’s just not true. He has 6 walks over 20.2 IP, and 2 of them have been intentional. Secondly, he is still getting groundballs. His GB% is at 60.6, which is right around his career norm. I think what’s happening is that because he’s already given up 3 home runs, it seems to people as though he’s giving up a lot of fly balls. But the thing is, his HR/FB is abnormally, and unsustainably high at 25%. Meaning he’s still getting plenty of ground balls, he’s just getting unlucky when the occasional ball gets hit in the air.
Brandon League is fine, people, and he’s still one of, if not this team’s best reliever. He just, like a good portion of the players on this team, needs some regression.