Brewers closer John Axford is off to a rough start, allowing three homers and a total of six hits in 11 plate appearances while working with decreased velocity.
Axford says he feels fine physically and Adam McCalvy of MLB.com writes that the Brewers are unlikely to make any quick decisions about removing him as closer, but manager Ron Roenicke did sound a little worried when he said the right-hander’s velocity “was way down, so we’ll talk to him and see how he’s doing.”
McCalvy reports that Jim Henderson would be “Plan B” for the Brewers after racking up 45 strikeouts in 31 innings as a 29-year-old rookie last season, but it’s worth noting that Axford went through a rough patch last year–even losing the closer job briefly–and bounced back to convert 17 of his final 18 save chances with 30 strikeouts in 19 innings after mid-August.
What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.
Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.
The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.