One of the culprits for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 29-26 record this season has been the bullpen’s collective inability to preserve leads or keep the Dodgers within reach. The bullpen was called on early and often this season, which only exacerbated the issue as the Dodgers stumbled out of the gate.
Coming up on the 30 percent mark of the season, the Dodgers for the most part remain in search of answers in their bullpen. Kenley Jansen appears to have solved his issues, while Brian Wilson has not. Where manager Don Mattingly has found consistency is with Brandon League.
Rather impressively, the right-hander hadn’t allowed an earned run in 22 innings, which spanned across 16 appearances. The streak came to an end Thursday as the Pittsburgh Pirates got to League in the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ loss.
Following the game, League opted not to dwell on the streak ending, but acknowledge he must fulfill his responsibility as a reliever, via ESPN LA
“I know it’s been a while since anything like this has happened,” League said. “It’s not discouraging. It just stinks having your name next to the L. As a reliever, you go day to day and you’re taught to forget quickly. It’s nice to know your manager keeps running you out there regardless of the results, but in the end, you’ve still got to get the job done.”
League quickly fell out of favor last season, lost his role as closer and was relegated to mop-up duty. Through 21 appearances this season, League has a 1.18 WHIP, which is his lowest mark since 2011, when he finished at 1.08 to go with 37 saves as the Seattle Mariners’ closer.
Despite indications that 2013 may be behind him, some still remain leery of League’s ability to continue with his successful outings and the reliever acknowledged in early May last season is what many remember.
With Wilson’s inconsistency and Chris Withrow likely to require Tommy John surgery to treat his torn UCL, League’s importance to the bullpen has suddenly become magnified. While League may not be popular among the fans, Mattingly has shown little to no reluctance to call on the 31-year-old and League has thus far managed to respond.
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