The Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen has drawn plenty of negative attention this season for their poor performances and tendency to blow leads. Collectively, the relievers are 4-11 and have the third-highest ERA in the National League with a 4.38 mark.
One reliever who has quietly strung along one impressive outing after another is Brandon League. With two scoreless innings in Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the former closer has not allowed a run in his last 19.1 innings pitched.
League’s struggles in 2013 had many calling for his being left out of the crowded bullpen heading into 2014. Via Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, the 31-year-old discussed the relief that’s come with his success this season:
It definitely feels good to get outs,” he said. “Last year, I couldn’t buy an out.”
Though the situation hasn’t been quite as despair in recent weeks, manager Don Mattingly had difficulty calling on a reliable reliever. Brian Wilson, who was re-signed to a one-year contract with a player option in the off-season, has failed to match the effectiveness he pitched with last season and Kenley Jansen has blown two saves, which is half of his total in 2013.
Meanwhile, League leads the team with a 1.40 ERA, 0.97 WHIP all in a team-high 25.2 innings pitched. While League has emerged as dependable option for the Dodgers, he still acknowledges a difference in his confidence as he no longer is the Dodgers’ closer:
I’m not closing, so I wouldn’t say confidence-wise it’s the same,” he said. “I’m not in the same role. I’m not complaining about where I’m pitching. Like I said in spring training, I’m here for whatever role or no role or however they see fit. I’m here to pitch and help the team get outs.”
With plenty of baseball left to be played, final judgement will likely be held on the notion League has put his troubles behind him. While it’s out of the right-hander’s control, only twice this season has he come into the game with the Dodgers leading.
As the Dodgers are still searching for any semblance of consistency and success, League’s ability to continue pitching well may increase his value if Chris Perez or Wilson falter.
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