Although the move was made quietly, and without much fanfare, the trade to bring Brandon League over from the Seattle Mariners proved to be one of the more shrewd moves at the trade deadline.
On July 30, the Dodgers sent two minor-leaguers to the Seattle Mariners to acquire League, who had just lost his job as the Mariners’ closer. After several years with the Toronto Blue Jays, League spent the past 2-1/2 seasons with Seattle, where he was an all-star closer in 2011.
One of the reasons Dodgers GM Ned Colletti acquired League was because of his experience as a closer, and also for his power arm.
This would come into play when Kenley Jansen went down at the end of August with a heart ailment, and League successfully stepped into the role of the team’s full time closer.
League converted six of six save opportunities over the final five weeks of the season.
Overall: 2-6, 3.13 ERA, 54:33 K/BB, 72 innings pitched, 1.36 WHIP, 15 saves, 74 games
With Dodgers: 2-1, 2.30 ERA, 27:14 K/BB, 27.1 innings pitched, 1.13 WHIP, 6 saves, 28 games
League struggled upon arriving in Los Angeles, giving up six earned runs over five innings in his first seven appearances (10.80 ERA). However, from August 21 on, League gave up only one earned run the rest of the season (0.90 ERA).
The big sinker-baller made the most appearances of his career and threw the third-most innings of his career.
League greatly benefited from the change of scenery, and flourished as the team’s closer. After watching his K/9 innings drop over the past couple of seasons in Seattle, League struck out 27 batters in 27.1 innings after joining the Dodgers, re-discovering the devastating sinker that made him an All-Star in 2011.
Aug. 3 vs. Cubs – League threw a scoreless inning in his second appearance with the Dodgers, entering a 6-1 game in the 8th inning and continued to strike out David DeJesus and Anthony Rizzo.
Aug. 31 vs. Diamondbacks – League entered the game in the 10th inning of a 3-3 tie and proceeded to strike out the side, setting down John McDonald, Chris Young and Aaron Hill in order. This was League’s sixth consecutive scoreless appearance.
Sept. 1 vs. Diamondbacks – League earned his first National League save and his first save with the Dodgers. League struck out Miguel Montero and Chris Young en route to a 2-1 Dodgers victory.
Sept. 29 vs. Rockies – League wrapped up his fourth save in five games setting down the Rockies in order and striking out Chris Nelson to seal a 3-0 Dodgers win.
Oct. 1 vs. Giants – League entered the ninth inning of a 2-2 tie that had the Dodgers’ playoff lives hanging in the balance. League pitched a scoreless inning and got his second win of the year thanks to a walk-off single by Elian Herrera.
The Dodgers were so impressed with League’s two-plus months with the team that they rewarded him with a 3-year/$22.5 million deal following the season.
League appears to be locked into the closer role for the foreseeable future, and combined with Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, the back end of the Dodgers bullpen is one of the best in baseball.
After a brief adjustment period, the tattooed reliever with the Oakley goggles flourished with the Dodgers after 7-1/2 seasons in the American League.
League and the club share similarly high expectations. After inking his deal, League was quoted as saying the Dodgers will be the team to beat in 2013.
League will turn 30 before the start of next season.