If someone predicted that Brandon League would be one of the top relievers for the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2014 season, many fans would have a hard time believing it would hold true. To the pleasant surprise of many, the once inconsistent reliever was in fact one of the more dependable pitchers late in games last season.
In 2013, League posted a 5.30 ERA, had five blown saves, nine wild pitches and a career-low -1.4 wins above replacement (WAR). Last season the organization saw a complete transformation from League, who finished with a 2.57 ERA, which was the second-lowest among regular Dodgers relievers.
With the third-most innings pitched out of the Dodgers’ bullpen, the 31 year old was not only one of the few reliable choices for Don Mattingly late in games, but also a force to be reckoned with. League’s vast improvement from the previous season is tied to a matter off the field.
According to League, after changing his diet there was still a negative influence on his body and performance on the mound, via J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News:
I was getting enough sleep, eating as well as possible,” League said. “The only other factor I saw was alcohol.”
Although the benefits have been undeniable, League admits that choosing to exclude alcohol from his diet last August took some getting used:
I feel great,” he said. “It’s a huge step. It’s a big lifestyle change. Who doesn’t like a couple glasses of wine, great tasting food at restaurants?”
For League, the major lifestyle change has made the biggest difference in his everyday energy. Going into his 12th season in the Majors, there’s an opportunity for League to serve an important role for the Dodgers, who will be without closer Kenley Jansen at least until the end of April.
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