KANSAS CITY -- Since being removed from the closer's role at the start of June, Brandon League has been working to expand his pitch selection and change up his pattern a bit to keep hitters off-balance. And while things are always a work in progress in the Major Leagues, League is pleased to indeed be seeing some progress.
"I'm throwing a lot more sliders," League said, "and it's making my fastball more effective. I feel like I don't have to be as perfect with the fastball."
League was brought into a sticky seventh-inning situation on Monday with runners on first and second and Royals cleanup hitter Billy Butler at the plate. He fell behind 3-1, but then got Butler looking with two tough fastballs.
"First and second with two outs, I want to go right after him," League said. "He didn't swing the bat the whole at-bat, but I got the calls my way and got out of the inning."
"League really stepped up against Butler there in that situation," said manager Eric Wedge. "He was really dotting it up there."
League has allowed just one earned run over 11 2/3 innings in his last 13 appearances for a 0.77 ERA, with 12 hits, four walks and four strikeouts. His ERA has dropped from 4.18 on June 10 to 3.18 heading into Tuesday's game.
"I feel like he's done a better job mixing his pitches," said Wedge. "His fastball command has been a little better and the velocity has been more consistent, too. He's been mixing in his slider a lot more, which has really been effective for him."