Friday, May 23, 2014

League's role should continue to increase

Yes, I did just say that.

After earning his first hold of the season on Wednesday night, Brandon League lowered his ERA to 1.35.  Even more impressive is how his ERA has gone down in each of his last 14 appearances, going scoreless in 21 1/3 innings during that stretch.

So, here is something that I never, ever thought I'd say: It's time to give Brandon League a crack at being the setup man.

Hey, why not?  It's not as if anyone else is getting the job done.  Brian Wilson has done slightly better lately, but still sports an 8.22 ERA.  Chris Perez has been lit up in recently, increasing his ERA all the way to 5.68.  Chris Withrow and Paco Rodriguez are in Albuquerque trying to throw strikes more consistently.

J.P. Howell could be another candidate for the eighth inning, but he's more of a situational lefty, and lets a few too many men reach base.  Jamey Wright has a solid 3.16 ERA, but a 1.48 WHIP isn't good at all.  Paul Maholm has recently been a starter, and will fill the long relief role.

Which leaves us with the suddenly rejuvenated League, AKA Juan Uribe 2.0.  It's no secret that Ned Colletti completely overpaid for him a couple years back, as he was looked at as the closer while Kenley Jansen continued to be the setup man.  It flopped miserably.

Now League has found his sinker again, and appears like Don Mattingly's confidence as well.  If you want a funny look at how low on the totem pole League has been for most of this year, check out his game-by-game results.  In his 18 appearances, only five of them have occurred during a Dodgers' victory.  The other 13 have been in a loss, which shows the mop up duty he's been performing.

Thanks to a combination of League's effectiveness and the rest of the bullpen getting rocked, Mattingly should at least give this a try.  Even more encouraging is that he's thrown the most innings in relief at 26 2/3, but only has six walks.  Considering the Dodgers are second in baseball with 83 free bullpen passes, he stands out even more.

If it doesn't work, then oh well.  Like I said before, it's not as if anyone else has grabbed the setup role and run with it.  It's been a whole lot of negativity for one reason or another.  League has been a surprising success story thus far, so let's see if he can continue that in a bigger inning.

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