Tommy Kahnle will serve as the Rockies’ official closer following the demotion of John Axford, manager Walt Weiss confirmed on Saturday, as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports.
The Rockies have not had much stability in the ninth inning throughout the season. LaTroy Hawkins started the season as the closer, but struggled and was replaced by Adam Ottavino. Ottavino, however, suffered an elbow injury and subsequently underwent Tommy John surgery. Axford then stepped into the role and performed well for a while, but hit the skids coming out of the second half.
Kahnle, 26, has put together a solid season, currently owning a 2.60 ERA with a 35/17 K/BB ratio in 27 2/3 innings. He got the save on Friday, his first of the season in his only attempt thus far.
Rockies reliever John Axford has hit the skids as of late, allowing runs in five consecutive appearances with four blown saves. He’s forked over eight runs on eight hits and eight walks with four strikeouts. As Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post details, manager Walt Weiss has removed Axford from the closer’s role.
Weiss didn’t name a successor, but mentioned that Rafael Betancourt, Tommy Kahnle, and Justin Miller as candidates to handle save situations.
“We have a few different options down there, so it will probably come down match-ups and who is available,” Weiss said. “So there will be a few different guys throwing at the end.”
Overall this season, the 32-year-old Axford has a 4.45 ERA with a 29/19 K/BB ratio in 30 1/3 innings. He wasn’t expected to handle closing duties at the start of the season, but Betancourt struggled and Adam Ottavino underwent Tommy John surgery.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are among the teams that have inquired about Rockies closer John Axford. He adds, however, that the fumbling Tigers — who lost to the Orioles on Sunday — may not necessarily be buyers with their 45-46, third-place record.
Axford, 32, has missed time during the season to be with his son, who suffered rattlesnake bites in March. The Rockies didn’t intend to have Axford serve as the closer, but Rafael Betancourt struggled and his replacement, Adam Ottavino, quickly suffered a season-ending injury. Nevertheless, Axford has excelled this season, earning the save in 16 of 17 opportunities with a 2.36 ERA and a 25/11 K/BB ratio in 26 2/3 innings.
Axford is owed the remainder of his $2.6 million salary and will be eligible for arbitration for the final time after the season.