We here and Seattle Sports Insider there have talked about the predictability of Brandon League's pitching approach since he came over to the Mariners. League has thrown almost exclusively fastballs early on and when behind in the count, generally saving splitters for when he has one or two strikes. He also in 2011 became a two-pitch pitcher, ignoring the slider he threw every so often a year ago and in the years before that.
I don't think I have to explain why that approach could use improvement. The good news? Improvement might be on the way. Shannon Drayer, writing about a conversation with Carl Willis:
"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."
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."
So Willis is very much aware of League's pattern, and while he says he'll leave it up to League to change his mindset, he'll presumably be right in League's ear, making the occasional suggestion.
Based on the fact that League threw a few sliders last night after not throwing a single slider (that I saw) for the first month and a half, he already looks to be in the process of changing things up. I don't think League's slider is great, but if he keeps throwing it, it should do just fine as a third pitch, helping to keep hitters off balance. It's something else that isn't a fastball, and it's a pitch that might have a better chance of ending up in the strike zone than his splitter.
Re-introducing the slider is a good move. We'll see from here whether League also reduces his fastball usage in the predictable counts, but Willis' words are encouraging. From the sounds of things, Brandon League's game should be changing.