League and Carlson: Mr. Inconsistency and Captain Facepalm

They’re the faces we’ve seen all too often this season; the patented Jesse Carlson facepalm and the Brandon League look of disbelief. The struggles of both of these young hurlers have been well documented this season and were evident once again today in the Blue Jays 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Once integral parts of the best bullpen in baseball in 2008, Carlson and League have fallen from grace and have become the two worst relievers on the club. First off, let’s start with Brandon League; or as I’d like to call him for this example, Mr. Inconsistency. His Jekyll/Hyde act has been evident since Opening Day and it seems like every time Brandon League appears to have turned things around, he reverts back to his sub 5.00 ERA.

Then of course we have Jesse Carlson, who is showing all the signs and symptoms of a sophomore slump. As a rookie reliever in 2008, Carlson turned many heads by posting a 2.25 ERA through 69 appearances with the Blue Jays. This year has not been so kind to Captain Facepalm and just like Brandon League, Carlson has struggled to keep his ERA below the 5.00 for the most part of this season.


Out of both of these pitchers, the most frustrating to watch is Brandon League. As you can see above, Jesse Carlson’s troubles have plagued him most of the season, whereas League flips between moments of sheer brilliance and then complete and utter frustration.

With a surplus of talented young relief pitchers on the Blue Jays staff and in the minor league system, I find it difficult to see a spot on the roster in 2010 for Jesse Carlson. But Cito Gaston’s mancrush on Carlson has kept him on the team while pitchers like Jeremy Accardo and Dirk Hayhurst are banished to Las Vegas for no good reason.

I realize that it’s very easy for relievers ERA’s to fluctuate from game to game, but you can see that the struggles of Brandon League and Jesse Carlson have not been isolated incidents. Unfortunately, their lackluster performances have not brought them down on the totem pole in the bullpen and Cito Gaston continues to turn to League and Carlson in high leverage situations.

For the time being, I will continue to refer to them as Mr. Inconsistency and Captain Facepalm because that is what Brandon League and Jesse Carlson have done the best this season; be inconsistent and sit in the dugout and hang their heads in shame.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

7 thoughts on “League and Carlson: Mr. Inconsistency and Captain Facepalm

  • August 17, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I really wish we were sitting here explaining success rather than failure. This whole situation sucks.

    Look at those lines – and when did the Jays go from winning 60% to losing 60%? Sometime around the end of May. I'd be cool with blaming this mostly on the two "pitchers" in question … and on Millar. Oh, and on … ah, forget it.

    I'm think I'm with you though Ian. I think there is justifiably a lot of patience for League — I don't quite get the patience for Carlson.

  • August 17, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    To be honest, League's performance looks consistently bad. Beyond his first couple of starts, in which earned runs will make a huge difference (the same reason there are players batting 1.000 or .500 after 2 or 3 games), he seems to have settled into a below-average ERA of around 5.

  • August 17, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    QJays, it's been a rough ride ever since that road trip in Boston. Surprisingly, the starting pitching has actually held up quite well but the bullpen and offense has sputtered ever since mid-May. Brandon League has great stuff and powerful pitches, that's why I'd be more inclined to keep him on the team. Carlson just baffles me.

    Chris, every time League gets his ERA below 4.00, it shoots back up. Is this because of poor mismanagement? Possibly. I think on multiple occasions Cito has left him in the game for too long, but his 3 inning outing last week proved that theory wrong.

  • August 17, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I think major league hitters and scouting reports have caught up with Carlson. It makes sense if you think about it, an older lefty reliever breaks out and eventually comes down to earth.

  • August 17, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    That's what I thought Matthias, Carlson was pretty lucky last year too – I don't know the exact numbers but I think his BABIP was pretty low. Just like you've said, hitters have caught on to Carlson and I think that's why his ERA has shot up so much in 2009.

  • August 17, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Carlson HAS pained me but given the fluctuation of pitchers from year to year, and the fact that the plethora of young relievers available to us is heavily RH…I don't think kicking Carlson to the curb is a good idea.

    We've been spoiled by very good relief pitching the last few years and we have a lot lower tolerance for slipage than we should.

    that said, if some other team wants to give us something quality for League and see if THEY can figure him out – I'm all for that. His act isn't a one-year thing.

    I wouldn't just give him away but I'd cash the check while it still had value.

  • August 18, 2009 at 12:32 am

    We have been privy to some great relief pitching over the past few years. After boasting the best 'pen in the majors last year, anything less than the best is automatically a disappointment.

    Who knows, maybe League could be shopped in the offseason. I wonder what kind of money he will make going into abitration – maybe it would be better to let him go?

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