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.
The Rockies activated Michael Cuddyer earlier today in time for tonight’s game against the Reds at home. He is batting clean-up and playing first base. The club also called up pitcher Brooks Brown from Triple-A Colorado Springs. In related roster moves, pitcher Tommy Kahnle was placed on the 15-day DL, first baseman Ben Paulsen was optioned to Triple-A, and pitcher Brett Anderson was moved to the 60-day disabled list.
Cuddyer, 35, had been out since early June with a fractured left shoulder socket. After leading the league in batting average last season, Cuddyer was having another productive year leading up to the injury. He was slashing .317/.366/.500 with five home runs and 16 RBI over 131 plate appearances. The veteran is eligible for free agency after the season, so he’ll be using the remaining month and a half of the season to reestablish his value.
Josh Harrison is quickly climbing the list of must-watch players. The Pirates’ super-utilityman and National League All-Star dipped and dived his way out of a rundown in the tenth inning against the Mets on June 27, though he did not score. The next inning, he belted a walk-off RBI double.
Harrison has done it again. The speedster deftly avoided Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario’s tag in a run-down in the sixth inning of today’s game in Colorado. The Pirates had already plated two to begin the top of the sixth against Rockies starter Tommy Kahnle thanks to a game-tying two-run home run from Travis Snider. Harrison then reached on a single to shallow center.
With Gregory Polanco at the plate, Harrison stole second base. Only one problem: he overslid the base and shortstop Josh Rutledge was guarding the return path. That’s when the action began:
Harrison would later score on an Ike Davis double to give the Pirates a 5-4 lead. In the eighth inning, Harrison broke a 5-5 tie, hitting a solo home run to right center. He finished 4-for-6 with an RBI single, a double, the solo home run, and two stolen bases in the Pirates’ 7-5 win. The guy is a heap of fun to watch.
Harrison has a .294/.330/.447 slash line with six home runs, 33 RBI, and 12 stolen bases in 302 plate appearances this season.