Brewers manager says John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez will split save chances

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Apparently eager to appease newcomer Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday that he intends to employ K-Rod and John Axford as co-closers.

If the Brewers were to have Rodriguez and Axford split save chances equallyfor the rest of the season, then they wouldn’t have to worry about Rodriguez getting the 21 games finished he needs to guarantee his $17.5 million option for 2012.  As the Mets’ full-time closer, Rodriguez had 34 games finished during the first half of the season.

Still, there’s no way this really makes sense.  Rodriguez and Axford are very similar pitchers, so there’s not going to be any playing matchups with them.  It’s true that Rodriguez has been quite a bit better against righties than lefties this season, whereas Axford has been superior against lefties, but nothing in either’s career splits suggests the disparity will continue.

And there’s one big risk in employing Rodriguez as a co-closer right now: if he racks up say 10 games finished over the next six weeks and then Axford gets hurt, the Brewers will have no real choice but to employ K-Rod as their full-time closer and risk having that option year vest.

So, this is probably just politics.  Axford is 23-for-25 saving games this year and has done nothing to deserve to lose his job.  K-Rod will close when Axford needs a blow, but it doesn’t seem at all likely that we’ll see Axford in the eighth and Rodriguez in the ninth with any regularity.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.