Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher John Axford (59) wipes his face after being pulled from the game during the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
John Axford is out as the Brewers' closer, and Francisco Rodriguez is in.
Francisco Rodriguez was once among the more dominant closers in baseball. He closed for the Angels, then he closed for the Mets, from 2009 into 2011. That's when he got traded to the Brewers, who already had John Axford. The Brewers said at the time that Rodriguez would serve as something of a co-closer, but with Milwaukee he didn't record a single save. Rodriguez reportedly was not pleased.
Come the offseason, though, Rodriguez accepted the Brewers' offer of arbitration and signed for $8 million. He came into 2012 as a setup guy, behind Axford on the depth chart. But it's good to have proven closing experience in the bullpen, because sometimes things happen. And so, this:
Ron Roenicke makes it official: K-Rod is the new closer for the time being. #brewers— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) July 17, 2012
Monday, Axford blew his sixth save of the year. He also earned his sixth loss of the year. An odd thing about Axford is that his strikeouts are up from where they were a year ago, but so are his walks, hits, and homers. He's surrendered six longballs in 37 innings, and he's allowed a .784 OPS. That's not good enough for a closer on a team that was supposed to contend.
Enter Rodriguez, who's been pretty good this season, if short of dominant. Rodriguez might not last the rest of the way as Axford's replacement, because these things often end up being temporary, but I remember when Brandon League was temporarily removed from the closer role in Seattle. He's still not back closing, and he probably never will be. For now, Rodriguez is the guy, and that's the most we can say. Maybe he'll stick, maybe he won't, or maybe he'll get traded!