Poor John Axford. John Axford is not a unique pitcher. At this point, after more than 30 years of hyper-specific reliever usage, we’ve seen many John Axford’s make their way through the game.
For his career, John Axford amassed 106 saves. That’s good! Not many people can say they were good enough baseball players to get the call to close our their team’s victories more than 100 times across four seasons. John Axford can.
132 professional baseball players have stuck around for 100 career saves. That isn’t very many either, considering how many professional baseball players make their way through a Major League roster over the span of a season or two.
That John Axford can put “Milwaukee Brewers closer, 2010-2013″ on his resume is an impressive feat for anyone, let alone a mustached dude from Brantford, Ontario. But it looks like he might need to amend it to read “2010-2012″ as his days as the Brewers closer appear all but over.
Saying that John Axford is now out as the Brewers closer isn’t exactly accurate. He was out as closer before last night’s blowup, in which Axford entered the game during the 8th inning where he failed to complete a frame. Axford faced five batters, recorded two outs and loaded the bases, issuing two walks. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke yanked Axford from the game but his replacement, Alfredo Figaro, allowed all three runners to plate.
Axford’s numbers for the season are unsightly, allowing nine runs in just 3.1 innings pitched. 21 batters have come to the plate against John Axford in 2013, nine of them recorded hits — four of those homers — with another two drawing walks. Axford has four meltdowns (reducing his team’s win expectancy by more than 6%) in four appearances, a difficult task indeed.
John Axford’s reliever nightmare:10 outs, 9 hits, 9 ER
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) April 10, 2013
It all adds up to a reliever in crisis. Has Axford changed his release point, giving hitters a good, long look at his fastball before he lets fly? Disciples of Uecker believes so. Knowing what’s coming is sure to aid any big league batter. DoU also notes a dip in velocity, something a power pitcher not exactly known for his command can hardly afford.
The Brewers and Axford both said all the normal stuff, about regaining confidence and overcoming adversity. Perhaps John Axford will be back saving games in no time. With relievers, you can never really know for sure.
Pitching is a fickle mistress at the best of times. At worst, it is a job that chews up and spits out players with extreme prejudice. The list of 100 save closers is not exactly a “who’s who” of baseball talent over the long history of the game. There are some guys you know, some guys who make you say “really, him?” and some others who appeared randomly generated using a 1970s New York City phone book.
Maybe John Axford comes back and is fine, climbing that all-time saves list for years to come. Maybe he slides out of baseball, the strain of warming up in a hurry and pitching 70 times a year getting the best of his shoulder or elbow. Chewed up, spit out. The life of the average reliever is not for the faint of heart.
And the rest
The Marlins – devious geniuses. [Grantland]
The Red Sox streak of selling out Fenway Park is likely to end today. RIP additional revenue streams. [Extra Bases]
The top of the Nats order will wear you out. [WaPo Nats Insider]