December 19, 2012
The Keeper Reaper
Relievers for 12/19/12
Brandon League | Dodgers
Brandon League, newly rich and the Dodgers’ undisputed closer, probably feels pretty fortunate right now. By midseason 2012 (his walk year), he was toiling in middle relief in a no-name Mariners bullpen after being demoted in favor of Tom Wilhemsen, an obscure 28-year-old rookie. Then, he was fortuitously bailed out of that bleak situation when he was acquired by the Dodgers. It was one of many moves Los Angeles made during the 2012 season that foreshadowed what has become an offseason in which they’ve spent lavishly—including on the likes of League, who inked a fat three-year deal before his market ever really took shape.
League may be compensated like a closer, but the question remains: is he really a viable stopper or merely a decent relief pitcher who’s been in the right places at the right times? Well, there’s often little distinction between the two, as we’ve seen many times before, but League mostly falls into the latter category for me, hence the conservative ratings. League’s calling card is his impressive groundball tendencies, but he doesn’t miss enough bats and has been too inconsistent with his control to be considered a truly dependable closer.
Obviously, the Dodgers see things differently. Re-signing League and naming him closer, however, may also underscore an organizational concern that stud reliever Kenley Jansen, who has missed time in each of the past two years due to a heart condition, can’t remain healthy over the course of a long season. Sure, beginning the season with League as closer should somewhat offset the domino effect that would be caused if Jansen were to be shelved again, but if League struggles for a stretch, as he did in 2012, will he be able to hold off a healthy Jansen? I’m not so sure.
Kenley Jansen | Dodgers
Nice segue, eh? But before we get into the analysis, first things first: Jansen’s ratings are for holds leagues. Obviously, he’s out of consideration as a keeper candidate in standard (i.e. non-holds) leagues. That being said, Jansen must be a tantalizing commodity for those of you in NL-only and Super Deep keeper leagues that count holds.