Are The Brewers Headed For A Stache Crash?
There was much consternation among Brewers fans after John Axford's three appearances in South Florida. Is he the right man to close?
It cannot be argued that Axford makes the ninth inning more dramatic than it needs to be. Only four times this year has he gotten through a clean 1-2-3 inning in a save situation. Baserunners, especially lead off baserunners, will eventually lead to blown saves (or stache crash in Axford's case.) However, if you stack up Axford against the rest of the top closers in the NL you'll see he's not as bad as some may think..
First, there's the fact that he's 16-of-18 in save opportunities and he's converted 13 straight saves. That's' no reason to look at alternatives. But what about all those baserunners? Despite not having a 1-2-3 ninth since May 16, Axford's WHIP is a respectable 1.54. That number is better than New York's Francisco Rodriguez (prior to Tuesday's game.) His ERA stands at 3.29, lower than NL saves leader Leo Nunez (3.41.) And the two blown saves are half the amount Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel has.
Now that's a bit of cherry picking because certainly there are others with better WHIP and ERA totals but the point is Axford's numbers are comparable to just about any other closer in the NL. Yes, he could cut down on the baserunners, but for as many guys as he puts on he hasn't given up a run in his last seven appearances. And that's the most important number of all. It may not seem effective but Axford is getting the job done.