Francisco Rodriguez works overtime for latest save

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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.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.