What will we see from League, when will we see Ackley?
Post game update: Eric Wedge announced that Franklin Gutierrez will be activated Wednesday and Tom Wilhelmsen will be sent down, not to AAA to relieve but to AA to join the rotation. I talked briefly with Wilhelmsen, who was saying goodbye to his teammates, about the move and asked what he thought about starting. “I am returning to the routine I know and love. I am very excited,” he answered.
The move leaves the Mariners with five outfielders. Michael Saunders will back up Guti in center. I asked Wedge if he would go with the same mix in left (Peguero and Wilson) that he has for the last week and he said that he has options at the position.
Before today’s game Eric Wedge told the assembled media that if the team got into a save situation he would go to his closer Brandon League.
League has sat and watched a ballgame as dictated by the skipper but he has also put in extra work throwing a side session yesterday where work was put in on his individual pitches.
After his blown save Friday in Cleveland Wedge said that he would have liked to see him throw more splitters. I think we would all like to see him throw more of what was rated to be the most unhittable pitch in baseball two seasons ago.
It is not just a matter of throwing the pitch however, it is when he throws it.
A post on LookoutLanding.com caught my eye pointing out that League has become incredibly predictable. How predictable? He has thrown first pitch fastballs 94 percent of the time. Behind in the count? 99 percent fastballs. I talked to pitching coach Carl Willis about this.
“Some people are saying he is tipping his pitches,” Willis said. “Well not throwing it (split) until you get two strikes, that’s tipping your pitch.”
Simple scouting and it will be up to League to adjust or in the words of Willis, pitch.
“He was 9 for 9 and there was a reason for that. He’s got to get back to realizing, with the exception of Rivera, or maybe a couple of others, the majority of closers really are still pitching the ninth inning. They are not going out there and here is one pitch and I am going to dominate this inning. They still have to pitch that inning. Hopefully we can get that mindset back.”
What can League do? Throw the splitter more and perhaps even throw another pitch. Willis said that pitch would not have to be perfect.
“Any time he can show anything other than a fastball, it can help. The hitter is gearing up for 98. Anything else will be difficult to hit.”
He has thrown a slider a bit in the past and worked on it this spring. We could perhaps see more of that. Not a lot, rather just something to give another look.
There was quite a stir earlier today about the possibility of Dustin Ackley being called up as soon as tomorrow. I am told this will not happen. A lot of things are being discussed as there will be moves coming and no doubt there was talk about Ackley.
In the next two weeks we will most likely see Franklin Gutierrez and Shawn Kelley rejoin the team. We have seen Carlos Peguero and Mike Wilson get their callups. Ackley most likely is next in line but as I have said from the beginning of spring training, his defense will dictate his arrival date. The moves in left were made because there was a need. There is not a need in the infield as of yet. It is important Ackley be completely comfortable at second because he will be tested once called up. Scouts and players have pointed out to me that big leaguers will know that he is green and they will come in hard, very hard at second to try and rattle him. For his sake, he needs to be ready.
It will be hard to make the move while Jack Wilson is still on the roster. It will not be a matter of just eating his salary and DFA’ing him. He has value and Jack Zduriencik will want to get something for him. I spoke with Wilson today and he is aware of the chatter. His agent called him earlier today to tell him about it.
“I am in the lineup tonight and that is what is important. I wouldn’t pay attention to these things at all if I didn’t have a family involved,” he told me.
Wilson has been around long enough to know there is a good chance he will be traded. He was on a road trip with his family when he was traded to the Mariners. It is a big adjustment for the families but it is part of the game.
Wilson also pointed out that he was excited for Ackley if indeed he was to be called up.
“There is nothing more exciting than a big league debut and this kid is good and is going to be good for a long time,” he said.
As for Gutierrez, we could see an outfielder or a reliever be sent down when he is ready. Gutierrez played six games in a row before reporting back to Seattle. He won’t sit for long. I would expect he will be playing somewhere by Thursday. We should know more tomorrow.