Ned Colletti made a bold signing today for the Dodgers. He gave relief pitcher Brandon League a 3 year, 22.5 million dollar deal. Big money for a relief pitcher. League pitched well for the Dodgers last year after he was traded from Seattle to LA.
Brandon League had a 2.30 ERA with the Dodgers to go along with 8.9 strikeouts per 9 innings. Those are solid numbers and his pitches have great movement. The dip on his fastball is superb. The problem is that he hasn't struck out that many hitters per 9 innings since he was a Blue Jay in 2009.
I hope he is one of those guys that has figured it out. I have read that he fixed a mechanical flaw when he came to the Dodgers. Maybe this gave new life to his pitches. League is getting 22.5 million bucks to be the Dodgers closer. Seventh inning guys don't get that type of cash.
League is the Dodgers guy to shut down games.
In honor of Brandon League's big contract, I decided to show some cards of some of my favorite Dodger relievers of the 2000s.
Being a relief pitcher is tough in the big leagues. You may be entering a game with runners on base. You may be coming in to close out a high pressure game. If you screw up in a big moment, everyone will remember that. You may be the last guy the fans see making a gaffe.
If you are a relief pitcher, gets two guys out in a seventh inning jam with runners on base, casual fans may not even know your name. Casual fans may not know the 25 man roster so, the 19th or 20th man on the team may be anonymous to most fans.
Relief pitchers are the ones that have given he heart attacks. They are also the one that give me thrills by punching out stiffs in a crucial situation.
Some guys like Hong-Chih Kuo hit home runs and make multiple comebacks after several surgeries.
Jeff Weaver is one of the greatest Dodgers of all time. He pitched for the Dodgers as a starter in 2004 and 2005. Weaver came back to the Dodgers in 2009 and 2010 after wasting his time as a Seattle Mariner.
Possibly, Weaver's best moment as a Dodger came in 2009 as a relief pitcher. Weaver came into Game 1 of the NLDS against his former team the St.Louis Cardinals. Weaver relieved starter Randy Wolf in the fourth inning and pitched out of a bases loaded jam. The Dodgers would win that game 5-3 thanks to the crucial outs that Weaver got early in that game.
Joe Beimel was one of my favorite Dodger pitchers. Beimel looked like a stoned caveman and was pretty good at pitching. Pitching with your eye lids drooping takes an elite skill set.
Beimel was a pretty good lefty arm for the Dodgers in 2006 to 2008. He was the odd player that became a fan favorite despite being a middle reliever. That is tough to do.
Think about your favorite baseball team and try to remember a middle reliever who was a popular fan favorite. Beimel even got a Dodger bobble head night that the fans voted on. That is big time.
Takashi Saito was phenomenal as a Dodger closer. Saito pitched in the same Dodger bullpen as Beimel. They were both on the team for the same years between 2006 to 2008. Saito and Beimel must have smoked some cigs together, threw back a couple tall boys, played some Madden football or whatever bullpen guys do during the early part of a baseball game.
Saito was also a very popular player and many Dodger fans were sad when he left to pitch for the Boston Red Sox.
The Dodgers have gotten some solid seasons out of their closers in the 2000s. Eric Gagne, Takashi Saito, and yes even Jonathon Broxton have had stellar years closing games in a Dodger uniform.
I hope that Brandon League can keep that tradition alive.