BRANDON LEAGUE, 31, reliever.
Final 2014 stats: 2-3, 2.57 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 5.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 63 innings.
Contract status: Last year of contract at $7.5 million.
The good: Was third on the staff in appearances (63). Had a 2.09 ERA in the first half. Did not allow a home run all season. During a 38-game stretch beginning in mid-April, posted a 1.32 ERA. Induced 15 double plays.
The bad: Allowed 9.3 hits per nine innings, a staff high (.278 average). Struggled badly in August (6.15 ERA, 2.46 WHIP). Had a 4.32 ERA pitching in day games.
What’s next: One more year, probably as a middle reliever.
The take: The typical reaction to League is boos and catcalls, mostly stemming from the fact he is a failed closer with a three-year, $22.5-million contract. That’s closer money, a role he couldn’t hold onto two months into the first year of the contract.
But eliminate the expectations and loony contract, and simply judge League on his 2014 season, and he was actually OK. And on this messed-up bullpen, that practically put him at the front of the line.
It’s all relative, of course, but for the most part he was more effective than not. He was a ground-ball pitcher and sometimes the balls shot through a hole, sometimes not. His 15 double plays actually tied him for second on the staff, trailing only Zack Greinke (20).
So he’s not someone you would really like to see out there in the late innings, although by the end of the season he may have actually been their best bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.
Yet he was still more effective than not in the mid-innings, which will likely be his role again in 2015. He’s making a lot of money for that, but that’s the Dodgers’ problem. He actually has a player option for 2016 at another $7.5 million, but that would require that he finishes 55 games next season, about as likely as “Dumb and Dumber To” taking home the best picture Oscar.
Still, as long as he’s going to keep the ball down, he’s a decent enough guy to have around and not simply jeer every time his name is announced because he’s failing to pitch like he did in September 2012.