John Axford signs with the Rockies

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Veteran reliever John Axford has signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies, according to MLB.com.

Axford was tabbed as the Indians’ closer to begin last season, but quickly lost the job and eventually wound up with the Pirates. Overall he threw 55 innings with a 3.92 ERA and 63/36 K/BB ratio.

Axford still has the raw stuff to rack up strikeouts, but his control is very shaky and he has a tendency to give up too many homers. Coors Field may not be the best fit for him, but he should be decent enough setting up for closer LaTroy Hawkins.

Thomas Harding of MLB.com says the deal will be worth $2.6 million plus incentives if Axford makes the Opening Day roster.

For the second straight year, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer match up as All-Star Game starters

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For the second year in a row, the All-Star Game will feature a starting pitching matchup of Chris Sale vs. Max Scherzer. The two were just announced at a press conference at Nationals Park.

This, in fact, will be Sale’s third straight start of the Midsummer Classic, as he faced off against Johnny Cueto of the National League in 2016. It’s Scherzer’s third start in an All-Star Game overall, as he got the starting nod for the American League back in 2013 against Matt Harvey.

Sale is 10-4 with a 2.23 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 188/31 in 129 inning pitched. He leads the American League in ERA, strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings pitched, with 13.1.

Scherzer is 12-5 with a 2.41 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 182/34 in 134.2 innings pitched. He leads the National League in wins, complete games, shutouts, strikeouts, innings, batters faced, WHIP, hits per nine innings allowed and strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

Because it’s the All-Star Game neither will notch a win, even if one could get a loss. Still, it’s a matchup of the two best pitchers going in 2018 and, with a tip of the cap to Clayton Kershaw, the two best starting pitchers of this era.