John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez have basically poured fifteen gallons of kerosene on the last couple of weeks of the Brewers’ season, lit their Zippo lighters, said a bunch of pithy, villainous one-liners, dropped their lighters and walked away over the stream of fire heading towards the building and then didn’t even flinch as the explosion went off behind them. Just ruthless performances in that regard from the both of them. Real Kyzer Soze stuff.
So, logically, the Brewers have done something about it:
That’s showing ’em, Doug Melvin. Let everyone know that there is real accountability in Milwaukee. The next guy who answers the bullpen phone and watches with his arms crossed as Axford and K-Rod warm up will know that they gotta mind their Ps and Qs.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was hoping for some stability when he removed John Axford from the closer role early last week, but he hasn’t had any such luck. Francisco Rodriguez blew two save chances against the Phillies this week while allowing six runs on five hits and three walks over just 1 1/3 innings, so the Brewers are going back to the drawing board.
According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Roenicke plans to use a closer-by-committee approach for the time being.
“We’re going to go with whatever we see in the game and who fits that slot,” said Roenicke. “Unfortunately, it’s come to that. I’d rather have a set bullpen. But we’re going to match up and see how we do that way.”
As for who may get the ball in a save situation, Roenicke told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that everyone is under consideration, including veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez. Livo, who is in his 17th season in the big leagues, notched his first career save back on May 5 as a member of the Braves.
While seeing a crafty junkballer like Hernandez try to lock down some save chances would be pretty entertaining — and likely terrifying for Brewers fans — it might not be long before Axford gets his old gig back. He has tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings since being removed from the closer role, including three strikeouts over two shutout frames in the Brewers’ extra-inning loss to the Phillies yesterday.
Milwaukee’s Francisco Rodriguez took to twitter after giving up four runs in two-thirds of an inning and taking a blown save and a loss Monday against the Phillies.
This one was ugly, but it was K-Rod’s first blown save in three tries since he replaced John Axford in the closer’s role for the Brewers. It will be interesting to see what manager Ron Roenicke does next. Axford has thrown 2 1/3 scoreless innings in four appearances since being demoted and might be ready for another crack at the job. Still, given Rodriguez’s track record, it wouldn’t be fair to let one bad outing cost him his job. Axford had six blown saves and six losses before he was pulled.
In theory, Francisco Rodriguez should be in line for a lighter workload now that he’s Milwaukee’s closer. Two days in, though, it certainly hasn’t worked that way.
Working for the fourth straight day, Rodriguez walked three and threw 35 pitches on his way to getting a save against the Cardinals in the Brewers’ 4-3 win Wednesday.
Rodriguez threw 12 pitches Sunday, 17 Monday and 19 Tuesday before getting the ball in the ninth in a 4-2 game today. He struggled with his control and issued three walks on 3-2 counts, but he was able to get Lance Berkman to line out to left field to end it.
Overall, Rodriguez has thrown 43 2/3 innings, which doesn’t seem excessive by itself. He’s on pace to throw 77 2/3 innings for the season, which would be his high mark since 2004, but only the third highest of his career.
K-Rod, though, has been forced to step it up lately. He’s worked four days in a row twice this month. For the season, he’s made 20 appearances on zero days’ rest, leading major league relievers. Detroit’s Jose Valverde is second with 18, followed by five guys with 16.
Fortunately, the Brewers have Thursday off, so they won’t have to worry about the ninth inning tomorrow. I think they should probably give K-Rod an extra day off on Friday after 83 pitches in four days, but that could lead to a difficult choice in the ninth. Making his first appearance since K-Rod replaced him in the closer’s role, John Axford got the win in relief today after getting four outs in the fifth and sixth innings. The Brewers probably wouldn’t want to go back to him in the ninth right away this weekend, but they also don’t want to burn K-Rod out.
6:15 p.m. EDT update: Brewers manager Ron Roenicke made it official today, saying Francisco Rodriguez would replace John Axford in the closer’s role for now.
When the Brewers acquired Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets last July 12, they knew he wanted to close and tried to placate him by saying he and John Axford would be co-closers. Of course, that never materialized, and K-Rod ended up going without a save in 31 appearances during the second half of the save.
Now, one year later, K-Rod over Axford looks like a real possibility. Axford, who was stellar in racking up an NL-high 46 saves last year, blew his sixth save and took his sixth loss when he gave up three runs in the ninth Monday against the Cardinals. In his defense, none of the three hits he gave up were all that well struck. However, he put himself in a bad situation by walking two batters.
K-Rod hasn’t exactly been stellar himself, but he did pitch his fifth straight scoreless inning Monday. The stretch has lowered his ERA from 4.17 to 3.67. Axford is currently sitting at 5.35.
It’d be an interesting switch for the 42-47 Brewers. Rodriguez is a definite candidate to be traded if Milwaukee deems itself out of contention, and he’d likely be more attractive to suitors if he picked up a few saves over the next couple of weeks. He’s someone who could also potentially be moved in August, given his $8 million salary.
On the other hand, the Brewers are still hoping Axford is their long-term closer, and it wouldn’t be sending him a very good message to pull him in favor of someone who could be dealt at any time. If the Brewers do make the switch, they should advertise as a short-term move and tell Axford he’ll get his job back if he performs.