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Brewers manager says John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez will split save chances

Jul 13, 2011, 5:20 PM EDT

John Axford AP

Apparently eager to appease newcomer Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday that he intends to employ K-Rod and John Axford as co-closers.

If the Brewers were to have Rodriguez and Axford split save chances equallyfor the rest of the season, then they wouldn’t have to worry about Rodriguez getting the 21 games finished he needs to guarantee his $17.5 million option for 2012.  As the Mets’ full-time closer, Rodriguez had 34 games finished during the first half of the season.

Still, there’s no way this really makes sense.  Rodriguez and Axford are very similar pitchers, so there’s not going to be any playing matchups with them.  It’s true that Rodriguez has been quite a bit better against righties than lefties this season, whereas Axford has been superior against lefties, but nothing in either’s career splits suggests the disparity will continue.

And there’s one big risk in employing Rodriguez as a co-closer right now: if he racks up say 10 games finished over the next six weeks and then Axford gets hurt, the Brewers will have no real choice but to employ K-Rod as their full-time closer and risk having that option year vest.

So, this is probably just politics.  Axford is 23-for-25 saving games this year and has done nothing to deserve to lose his job.  K-Rod will close when Axford needs a blow, but it doesn’t seem at all likely that we’ll see Axford in the eighth and Rodriguez in the ninth with any regularity.

  1. bobulated - Jul 13, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    Perhaps Roenicke should have flashed some air quotes when he said “co-closer” just so you knew that he was blowing sunshine up K-Rod and Boras’ posteriors.

  2. patsandsox - Jul 13, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    if axford is 23 for 25 why did the brewers even feel the need to add him?

    • nightman13 - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:49 AM

      They need a reliable set up guy and insurance if Axford gets hurt. They are loading up for a World Series run and as long as that option doesn’t vest they basically got a great reliever for free.

  3. foreverchipper10 - Jul 13, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    “K-Rod will close when Axford needs a blow, but it doesn’t seem at all likely that we’ll see Axford in the eighth and Rodriguez in the ninth with any regularity.”

    I’m sorry. When Axford needs a what?

    • Utley's Hair - Jul 13, 2011 at 6:17 PM

      That made me laugh voluminously. Thank you.

      • nightman13 - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:50 AM

        I do not understand how the term “needs/get a blow” has lasted this long in the homophobic world of sports.

  4. neelyisgod - Jul 13, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    Just like hockey goalies, If you dont have a true #1 then you have none.

    • nightman13 - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:52 AM

      They have a number 1, it’s Axford. The Brewers need a set up guy. They’ve had two set up guys get hurt (Hawkins and Saito) and they’ve burned out another at one point pitching him in 40 straight games (Loe). K-Rod is coming in to be a set up guy. Axford is just as good as K-Rod and about 90% cheaper.

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