Brewers manager says John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez will split save chances

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Apparently eager to appease newcomer Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday that he intends to employ K-Rod and John Axford as co-closers.

If the Brewers were to have Rodriguez and Axford split save chances equallyfor the rest of the season, then they wouldn’t have to worry about Rodriguez getting the 21 games finished he needs to guarantee his $17.5 million option for 2012.  As the Mets’ full-time closer, Rodriguez had 34 games finished during the first half of the season.

Still, there’s no way this really makes sense.  Rodriguez and Axford are very similar pitchers, so there’s not going to be any playing matchups with them.  It’s true that Rodriguez has been quite a bit better against righties than lefties this season, whereas Axford has been superior against lefties, but nothing in either’s career splits suggests the disparity will continue.

And there’s one big risk in employing Rodriguez as a co-closer right now: if he racks up say 10 games finished over the next six weeks and then Axford gets hurt, the Brewers will have no real choice but to employ K-Rod as their full-time closer and risk having that option year vest.

So, this is probably just politics.  Axford is 23-for-25 saving games this year and has done nothing to deserve to lose his job.  K-Rod will close when Axford needs a blow, but it doesn’t seem at all likely that we’ll see Axford in the eighth and Rodriguez in the ninth with any regularity.

Masahiro Tanaka throws two-hit shutout vs. Rays

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka went the distance, holding the Rays scoreless on two hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts across nine innings on Monday night in the Bronx. It’s the fourth shutout of his career, accounting for four of the Yankees’ last six shutouts. The other two were thrown my Luis Severino and Brandon McCarthy.

DJ LeMahieu provided the bulk of the offense, swatting a two-run home run off of Yonny Chirinos in the third inning. Cameron Maybin tacked on a solo homer off of Chirinos in the fifth as the Yankees went on to win 3-0.

After Monday’s performance, Tanaka owns a 3.23 ERA with 84 strikeouts and 20 walks across 92 innings on the season.

With the win, the Yankees increase their lead over the Rays for first place in the AL East to 1.5 games.