SEATTLE -- When Brandon League started struggling in the closer's role in late May, the Mariners' plan was to temporarily remove him from ninth-inning duty until he regained his All-Star form.
The plan had worked the previous year when League went on to save 37 games after an early-season bout with inconsistencies. It appeared the same would happen this year, but what looked like immediate improvement from League has leveled out.
"He's been a little bit inconsistent," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "Last night he wasn't at his best. There's times when we've seen him really good, too. Just need more consistency out of him, we need to know what we're going to be getting when we call for him.
"Still using him late in the ballgames, still using him in key situations, like we did last night -- that's where he belongs. He's a veteran guy, he has a lot of experience in the back end of the bullpen."
Wedge said he would like to see League throw a breaking ball early in the count more and wants to see the right-hander gain more confidence in his slider, a pitch he calls "filthy." Until he can do that, though, Tom Wilhelmsen will continue to be the go-to guy.
Wedge said he still prefers to have multiple options at the end of games, but Wilhelmsen has been dominant in save situations, converting all six of his opportunities since League was removed from the role. The tall righty has not allowed a run in his past 15 2/3 innings, a span of 13 appearances, and is limiting opponents to a .118 (6-for-51) batting average during that time.
"I want to have multiple options, ideally," Wedge said. "When we become more consistent winners, you need to have that -- to keep them both at their best. One's always going to have the lead role and obviously Wilhelmsen's in that lead role right now, but with Leaguer, still want him to be the best he can be."