The struggling John Axford is officially off of closer’s duty for the Indians, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Scott Atchison, and Marc Rzepczynski will share the role as closer, Hoynes adds.
Axford, signed to a one-year, $4.5 million deal in December, has posted a 4.91 ERA. The struggles have been prominent recently, as the right-hander has allowed runs in three out of his last four appearances. While Axford has struck out 15 batters in 14 2/3 innings, he has also walked 13 and allowed three home runs. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports that manager Terry Francona hopes to get Axford back into the ninth inning once he straightens out.
Axford, 31, struggled in 2012 and ’13 with the Brewers, prompting a late-August trade to the Cardinals last season, where he appeared to find himself, posting a 1.74 ERA in 10 1/3 innings through the end of the season. Unfortunately, it appears to have been a fluke.
Major League Baseball has announced the umpiring crew for the World Series. John Hirschbeck is the crew chief. It’s his fifth World Series assignment, third as a crew chief.
A surprising name on the crew is Joe West. It’ll be his sixth World Series overall, but first since 2012. There had been chatter for several years that Major League Baseball was making a more concerted effort to get its best umpires into the World Series more often while minimizing the appearances of its weakest umpires. Most assumed West’s absence from the Fall Classic in recent years, despite his seniority, was a function of that. Maybe they’re still making merit a priority and maybe West has just improved? I’ll leave that for you to judge.
Anyway, here is the lineup of umps for Game 1. They will rotate after that, of course. If the series goes six games, Cowboy Joe will be calling the balls and strikes:
Home plate: Larry Vanover
1B: Chris Guccione
2B: John Hirschbeck
3B: Marvin Hudson
LF: Tony Randazzo
RF: Joe West
Replay Official for Games 1-2: Sam Holbrook (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)
Replay Official for Games 3-7: Larry Vanover (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)