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.

Gerrit Cole second-fastest to 200 strikeouts in a season

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Astros starter Gerrit Cole dominated the Athletics on Monday night, limiting them to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 11. It marked his 12th start out of 22 this season with double-digit strikeouts, giving him 205 total on the season.

It is no surprise, then, to hear that Cole is the second-fastest in baseball history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Cole got there in 133 1/3 innings. The only pitcher faster than Cole was Randy Johnson, who reached 200 K’s in 130 2/3 innings back in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Along with the 205 strikeouts, Cole holds an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA across 136 2/3 innings. Among qualified starters in the American League, only Charlie Morton (2.61), Mike Minor (2.86), José Berríos (2.96), and teammate Justin Verlander (2.99) have a better ERA than Cole, who has twice finished in the top-five in Cy Young Award voting.