Brandon League stepped in for the injured David Aardsma and converted each of his first nine save chances as the Mariners’ closer, but all of a sudden he can’t get anyone out.
League took his first loss of the season Sunday by allowing three runs, blew a save and took a loss in the 13th inning Tuesday, and then blew another save and took a third straight loss in the 12th inning last night.
Through his first 14 appearances of the season League had a 2.08 ERA and 10/2 K/BB ratio in 13 innings while converting 9-of-9 save opportunities. In his last three appearance he’s 0-3 with two blown saves and a 27.00 ERA, coughing up seven runs while recording seven outs.
Any thoughts of replacing League as closer are complicated by the fact that Aardsma’s recovery from hip surgery has now given way to what could be a significant elbow injury, meaning he won’t be back any time soon. Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times also suggests that warming up multiple times in extra-inning games and being asked to pitch more than one inning may have contributed to League’s struggles. And the defense didn’t do him any favors either.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.