Four days ago the Brewers said they were sticking with John Axford despite a rough start to the season, but now it looks like manager Ron Roenicke is making a change in the ninth inning.
Axford took the loss in yesterday’s game against the Diamondbacks, but only after throwing a scoreless 10th inning and then being asked to pitch the 11th inning too. It didn’t go well and now Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Roenicke dropped some serious hints about a change even though nothing is official yet:
Asked if there was a closing situation today against the Cubs if he would use Axford, Roenicke said, “I need to have a discussion with ‘Ax’ on what we plan to do. So, I really can’t give you an answer until I talk to him.”
Normally, when a manager says somethng like that, it means he hasn’t talked to the player yet about making a change and therefore isn’t ready to tell the media.
Axford has a 20.25 ERA, allowing six runs in 2.2 innings while serving up four homers. He briefly lost the closer job last season, but then recovered to be one of the best relievers in baseball down the stretch. Presumably the fill-in will be setup man Jim Henderson, who has a 3.21 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 34 career innings.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that the Mariners have acquired starter Chris Heston from the Giants. The Giants will receive a player to be named later, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.
Heston, 28, logged only five innings in the majors this past season as he battled an oblique injury and otherwise spent most of his time with Triple-A Sacramento. Heston was solid out of the Giants’ rotation in 2015, posting a 3.95 ERA with a 141/64 K/BB ratio in 177 2/3 innings over 31 starts.
Heston will be under team control through 2021. He’ll provide depth for the Mariners’ rotation in the meantime.
Joe Nathan‘s agent, David Pepe, says his client wants to pitch in 2017, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. “He’s like the Energizer Bunny,” Pepe said.
Nathan, 42, came back from Tommy John surgery in July, pitching two scoreless innings for the Cubs with four strikeouts and two walks. The Cubs released him and the Giants picked him up, and Nathan went on to pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings down the stretch with five strikeouts and two walks.
According to FanGraphs, Nathan’s velocity wasn’t where it used to be, which is to be expected of a pitcher in his 40’s coming back from major elbow surgery. Still, with teams always on the hunt for bullpen depth, it would be shocking if Nathan didn’t get any bites before spring training starts.