John Axford is nobody’s idea of a reliable closer. Nevertheless, there are reportedly multiple teams lining up to give the former Brewers fireman a shot at a ninth-inning job in 2014.
The list of relief-pitching-starved teams willing to sign Axford as a closer includes the Mariners, Cubs and Orioles. Axford pitched for the Cardinals late in the season last year but became a free agent after he was non-tendered.
Axford’s career reached a giddy height in 2011 when he recorded 46 saves for Milwaukee. He still had 35 saves in 2012 for the Brewers but there were plenty of signs of collapse in his other stats. His ERA ballooned from 1.95 in ’11 to 4.67 in ’12. His WHIP went from 1.140 to 1.442.
And then 2013 happened. Axford appeared in 62 games for Milwaukee without recording a single save. He was shipped to St. Louis where he appeared in 13 games in a non-closer role. The most alarming single stat on Axford last year had to be the 10.1 hits-per-9-innings.
But, he did have that 46-save season once upon a time, and you know how organizations are about relief pitchers who’ve shown they can close out games. So Axford will probably get a chance to close in 2014, even though common sense and stats tell you he has no business being allowed anywhere near a ninth inning lead.
Good luck to whatever team signs this guy and makes him a closer.