Roto Arcade

Closing Time: Surprise! Brandon League blows another save chance

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

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Brandon League, still a problem (Getty)

Brandon League was asked to protect a two-run lead against Arizona on Monday night, and it did not go well. He faced seven Diamondbacks hitters, five of whom reached base. By the time League's night had ended, he'd allowed four hits, one walk and four runs. He was booed lustily by the home crowd, and then Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was booed, um ... lustilier.

It was not a feel-good night in L.A.

League has pitched a total of 24.0 innings this season, posting miserable ratios (6.00 ERA, 1.46 WHIP). He's blown four save opportunities so far and allowed at least one run in 11 of his 24 appearances. His K/9 is just 4.88, one of the lowest rates in baseball. He is pretty clearly not a closing-quality reliever at this stage. No other active Dodgers pitcher has an ERA above 3.90, so it's tough to argue that the team lacks alternatives.

Kenley Jansen remains one of baseball's premier set-up relievers, and Mattingly deployed him in the eighth on Monday, against Arizona's 2-3-4 hitters.

This from the Los Angeles Times:

Mattingly used Kenley Jansen in the eighth inning, against the heart of the Arizona lineup. If the Diamondbacks' best hitters had been due up in the ninth inning, Mattingly said he would have used League in the eighth and Jansen in the ninth.

[...]

Mattingly said he had not decided whether he would continue to use League as a closer.

"It's a tough time to make a decision 12 minutes after the game," Mattingly said.

Obviously there's nothing wrong with using your best bullpen arm (Jansen) to get the toughest outs (Goldschmidt). But right now, using League in any meaningful late-inning situation seems reckless and unnecessary. JP Howell is pitching reasonably well for the Dodgers, as is Matt Guerrier. The team has acceptable set-up options, if/when Mattingly chooses to turn the ninth inning over to Jansen.

If Kenley is still available to you, go make the add. Right now. Today. Shoo. Jansen remains unowned in 37 percent of Yahoo! leagues, inexplicably.

Monday's Red Sox-Rays tilt gave us a little bit of everything, including bench-clearing staredowns (Lackey vs. Joyce), blown saves (Tazawa and Bailey) and extra-inning clutchiness (via Nava). Ben Zobrist had a five-hit night for the Rays in a losing effort, while Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 4-for-7 for Boston, driving in three. James Loney hit his eighth homer of the season for Tampa, which gives him two more than he had last year in 434 at-bats. Loney is now batting .327/.387/.519, and he seems to have two hits every time I check a box score.

Visibility wasn't exactly ideal in Chicago on Monday, for either the Sox or the Cubs. On the south side, players sat through a fog delay that lasted 1 hour, 10 minutes. Adam Dunn and Jose Bautista both homered before and after the stoppage. RA Dickey had another lousy night, allowing 10 hits and seven runs (all earned) in 5.0 innings, failing to record a strikeout. Dickey has now allowed six runs or more in three of his last four outings; no way you're using him in his upcoming start against Texas.

On the north side, they partied on through the odd weather conditions...

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Wrigley bro in fog, with Old Style (Getty)

...as Brandon Phillips single-handedly beat the Cubs (grand slam, 6 RBIs). Starlin Castro finally showed signs of life for the Cubs, delivering a way-too-late RBI-double in the ninth.

While the major league results weren't great for Cubs fans on Monday, good stuff was happening down in the Florida State League. Shortstop Javier Baez had a four-homer night for Single-A Daytona, becoming just the second player in FSL history to accomplish the feat. Baez is widely recognized as one of baseball's best prospects, a player with ridiculous bat speed and clear power potential. He's now hitting .291 for Daytona with 13 homers, 17 doubles and six steals. Might be time to jump to Double-A.

Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) finally returned to Miami's lineup, but the Fish gave us their usual box score (five hits, one run, loss). Ricky Nolasco had a rough night, allowing 10 hits, two walks and four runs over 5.1 innings. Like an idiot, I streamed him. Yovani Gallardo helped his fantasy owners for the first time since maybe April, tossing 8.0 scoreless innings. But he'll face the Reds in his next turn; a win against the Marlins isn't enough to put him back in the circle of trust.

The Pads placed Jedd Gyorko (groin) on the 15-day DL, which is brutal news for his owners. The recently un-DL'd Logan Forsythe got the start at second for San Diego on Monday, going 2-for-2 with a homer and two runs scored. Forsythe is really a deep league option only; he's a .286 career hitter in the minors, lacking significant power or speed.

Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
Cubs prospect Javier Baez hits four home runs in a game
Taking stock of the MLB free-agent class
Who is charging what for baseball tickets fees?

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