Felix deserves to go. Brandon doesn't.
Yes, I am aware that League has stepped up into the closer role for the Mariners while David Aardsma recovers from injury. Yes, I'm aware that he could be a 50-save closer this season with some luck in the second half of the season.
Tonight was a perfect example of why Felix deserves to go and League does not.
King Felix pitched eight innings of dominant baseball, allowing one run off of only four hits, while striking out 10. He left the game with all the confidence in the world that he would get the win. As I watched Brandon League enter the game, I just thought one thing: Here we go again.
Jemile Weeks started the inning with a ground-rule double. He was moved to third by a sacrifice bunt by Scott Sizemore. Coco crisp then hit a soft fly ball to left field, and wouldn't you know it, Brandon League had blown another save.
The Mariners went on to win this game in the 10th, but that's besides the point.
The point is that when your All-Star closer comes into the game, fans shouldn't be thinking, "Here we go again." They should be thinking, "Game over."
On paper, Brandon League looks like an All-Star. League has notched 23 saves in the first 86 games of 2011. He could easily rack up 40 saves by the end of the year.
But Brandon League isn't reliable. He has blown too many games. Mariners fans will never forget the torturous stretch of games League appeared in from May 8-13. During that four-game span, League gave up 10 runs. He was dealt the loss in all four games. Three of the four games were blown saves.
I do not want to see a pitcher like that representing the Seattle Mariners at the All-Star game. I would rather see Michael Pineda or Jason Vargas take his slot.
This season, Jason Vargas has tossed three complete-game shutouts. That is the third-most in franchise history behind Dave Flemming, who threw four in 1992, and Randy Johnson, who also threw four in 1994. His stat line may not be mind boggling, but he is on fire and still a deserving player in my mind.
While he is only a rookie, I was personally surprised that Michael Pineda was left off the All-Star team. His name has been in the mix for Cy Young and Rookie of the Year and his numbers show why.
In his first big league season, he is 8-5 with a 2.58 ERA, 106 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.01. He has become King Felix's sidekick and he is one of the most reliable pitchers out there—and yet he won't be representing the Mariners in Arizona.
To all the casual baseball fans reading, when you see Brandon League enter the 2011 All-Star Game next week, just keep in mind we have better pitchers in our arsenal. Much better pitchers.
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