The Los Angeles Dodgers were in search of relief help at the end of the 2012 season when they traded for Seattle Mariners reliever Brandon League. He did an admirable job in his 28 games with the club as he posted a 2.30 ERA with six saves and was signed to a three-year $21 million contract and came out of Spring Training as the Dodgers closer.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan for League and the Dodgers this season.
Regular Season Grade: D-
The Dodgers came into the season with the expectation that League would be their closer and that he could come close to replicating his 2011 season with the Mariners when he finished with 37 saves and a 2.79 ERA.
Despite his struggles during Spring Training, when he allowed nine runs and had an ERA of 7.88 in nine appearances, League was trusted with the closer’s role and quickly began to struggle. He went on to have a subpar April, despite saving eight games out of nine tries but had a 4.09 ERA, allowing six runs in 11 appearances.
Things got gradually worse from that point on as he finished May saving three of five, but still had a 6.75 ERA while in June, he saved three of four, but with a 7.00 ERA. With League struggling, the Dodgers decided to give Kenley Jansen the closer’s job for the rest of the season and League’s three-year $21 million contract continued to look bad.
League was then relegated to eighth inning duties, but it was clear that he was done pitching in high-pressure situations. “League proof” became a thing as the Dodgers only trusted him when games were out of reach. Brian Wilson was signed to be the set-up man as the Dodger bullpen improved at season’s end.
Playoff Grade: Incomplete
League finished the year in bad shape and was eventually left off both postseason rosters as the Dodgers opted to go with Wilson, Chris Withrow Ronald Belisario and even Carlos Marmol as their right-handed relievers out of the ‘pen.
There’s not much else to say as League still has two more years on his contract while Dodger fans hope he continues to not see the field in pressure situations.
Overall Grade: F
League came into the season as the Dodgers closer despite a bad Spring Training. Well, that bad Spring Training quickly turned into a bad April, May and June which eventually lead to him losing his job in pressure situations.
The Dodgers hoped League would replicate his 37 save season from 2011, but his alarming decline in swing and miss rate in 2013 is cause for concern. He only had 28 strikeouts in 54.1 innings coupled together with a 1.54 WHIP as 2013 was a complete and utter disaster for League in Dodger Blue.
In case you missed it, here’s the Dodgers pool celebration, PLUS Yasiel Puig’s celebration dance off!