Dodgers 2014 Player Previews: Brandon League, Out Of A Role?
2013 stats: 6-4 record, 14 saves, five blown saves, 5.30 ERA, 68 ERA+, 1.55 WHIP, 54.1 innings pitched, 28 strikeouts.
Entering the first season of a three-year, $22.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Brandon League was tapped to solidify the team’s need at closer. League was never able to take hold of that role however and he more than had his share of struggles before being replaced by Kenley Jansen in late June.
Prior to struggling, League recorded eight saves in the month of April. A two-game stretch at the beginning of May was the start of a series of poor performances from League. He finished the month of May with a 1-2 record, 6.75 ERA, three saves and two blown saves. League then appeared to recover in July when he posted a 3-0 record and a 2.89 ERA. However, four of his eight appearances were in games that the Dodgers won by at least five runs — simply put, not exactly situations that were pressure packed.
League then regressed to his mean as he earned multiple no-decisions, had one loss and one blown save through the remainder of the regular season. Opponents hit a season-high .382 off the 10-year veteran during the month of September. The inability to improve his pitching and remain consistent resulted in League being left off both the NLDS and NLCS rosters.
The Dodgers gave the right-hander more than enough opportunities to rectify his issues throughout the season, but they clearly couldn’t afford to have him on the playoff roster given his inconsistencies. Moreover, the Braves hit .429 against League during the regular season and the Cardinals hit .333.
2014 outlook: League may have some sort of role out of the bullpen, primarily because of his contract, but how much work he’ll remains to be seen. The Dodgers have loaded up on right-handed, late-inning arms with the signing of Chris Perez and re-signing of Brian Wilson. Their additions could result in League primarily being used in mop-up duty.
League could potentially see notable action if Wilson is unable to withstand his first full season since having Tommy John surgery or if Perez is unable to break free from his own 2013 troubles. If he’s unable to bounce back from his terrible 2013 season, the Dodgers might look to the trade market or simply designated for assignment. In any case, the Dodgers might be paying League a lot of money to stop pitching for the team.
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