Should the Dodgers keep Brandon League?

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
2:27
PM PT
The most impressive aspect of the Dodgers' final month was the relief pitching, particularly in the late innings. Ronald Belisario, Kenley Jansen and Brandon League made the final three innings a no-fly zone, smothering teams' hopes of a rally with upper-90s velocity.

Of the three, only League -- who became the Dodgers closer in September -- is a free agent. He said he has already told the team he would like to re-sign here. The Dodgers will have an exclusive window to negotiate with League shortly after the World Series.

League grew up in Hawaii and has lived in San Diego for the past two years, so a lot of factors could line up to keep him in L.A., presuming the Dodgers make him the best offer.

"This is definitely somewhere I'd like to play, but it's not up to me," League said. "We'll see what happens."

League made a subtle mechanical adjustment -- having to do with his front side -- after a suggestion by bullpen coach Ken Howell and radically changed the course of his season. In his first five games as a Dodger, League had a 16.88 ERA and opponents were hitting .467 off him. In his next 23 games, he had a 0.73 ERA and other teams hit .128 off him.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly would like to have all three relievers back next season, but he's realistic about it. Players who reach free agency don't typically remain where they were and late-inning relievers have gotten expensive. League pitched in Toronto and Seattle before the July 30 trade that sent him south in exchange for minor leaguers Leon Landry and Logan Bawcome.

"Nothing scares me about the back end of our bullpen because I know Kenley's there," Mattingly said.

Here are lineups for Wednesday's season finale with the San Francisco Giants:

San Francisco
Angel Pagan CF
Marco Scutaro 2B
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Buster Posey C
Hunter Pence RF
Xavier Nady LF
Brandon Belt 1B
Joaquin Arias SS
Ryan Vogelsong P

Dodgers
Mark Ellis 2B
Andre Ethier RF
Matt Kemp CF
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Hanley Ramirez SS
Shane Victorino LF
Luis Cruz 3B
Tim Federowicz C
Clayton Kershaw P

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Clayton Kershaw
WINS ERA SO IP
21 1.77 239 198
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Puig .296
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239