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John Axford learned from Cardinal coaches that he was tipping his pitches

Jan 12, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT

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Indians reliever John Axford was a Cardinal for less than two months, including the post-season, at the end of 2013, but it was invaluable. Per John Lott of the National Post, Axford learned from his Cardinal coaches that he had been tipping his pitches.

On John Axford’s first day with the St. Louis Cardinals, his new coaches sat him down for a meeting. We’ve been scouting you for five years, they said. And by the way, you might be interested in one thing we know about you: You’re tipping your pitches.


His fortunes turned when the Cardinals acquired him last Aug. 30. After he made “one little adjustment” in his delivery, batters no longer knew what to expect. Axford posted a 1.74 ERA in 13 games for St. Louis and topped it off with a 1.59 mark in six post-season games, including two scoreless outings against Boston in the World Series.

The Cardinals could have kept Axford around, but the right-hander was projected to make between $5-6 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility. Instead, the Cardinals non-tendered him in early December. Two weeks later, the Indians signed him to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million, effectively replacing Chris Perez as the closer.

Axford credits his short stint in St. Louis for rediscovering success, saying, “I don’t think I would be in the position I’m in right now with the Cleveland Indians if I wasn’t traded [from Milwaukee].”

  1. Pierre Cruzatte - Jan 12, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    This One Weird Trick Will Shave Runs Off Your ERA

    • Senor Cardgage - Jan 13, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      Batters hate him.

  2. 78mu - Jan 12, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    Based on the way other teams beat Axford around after 2011, it seems the Cardinals weren’t the only team that knew he was tipping his pitches.

    Didn’t anyone on the Brewers consider this?

    • jm91rs - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:34 AM

      I know the Reds owned him, I’m guessing those in the division saw him often enough to figure it out.

  3. themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    I heard that Mariano Rivera tipped his pitch, too. Somehow, it didn’t seem to matter that much when Mo did it.

    • spudchukar - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      When you only have one pitch, does it matter if you tip it or not?

  4. oldschoolnflman - Jan 13, 2014 at 2:23 AM

    Reminds me of the failed pirates attempt to make Jose bautista live up to his potential. I’m talking about his swing. I have my doubt’s about possible roid use and the fact it seems blue jays at home are tipping pitches to their hitters.

  5. musketmaniac - Jan 13, 2014 at 3:45 AM

    Pirates gave him every chance. couldn’t hit for average, horrible third baseman. and a work in progress in right field. Good for Jose good for Toronto. But I’m tired of hearing how the bucs dropped the ball

  6. hodag54501 - Jan 13, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    Says much about the coaching staffs at Milwaukee, and why the Cardinals mostly owned the Brewers. I guess that’s why the Cardinals end up in the playoffs and the Brewers wonder why they aren’t.

  7. lifer124 - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:08 PM

    Watching him during his success and failures in Milwaukee it was obvious he has amazing stuff. I’ve seen a number of closers have a great season here and then flame out but Axford was different. He was still bringing the same heat on the fastball, still had a strong breaking ball, but you just saw hitters tee him up like it was batting practice. I kind of thought he was tipping, but then I thought hey, they have professional coaches, wouldn’t they be able to figure that out? Geez.

  8. carpi2 - Jan 13, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    The Cardinal have a pitching coaching staff.

    • carpi2 - Jan 13, 2014 at 7:36 PM

      *a hell of a pitching coaching staff*

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