The Milwaukee Brewers have replaced closer John Axford with Jim Henderson, following a slow start to the 2013 season by Axford. Henderson earned his first save as the Brew Crew’s new closer Monday over the Chicago Cubs.
Milwaukee waited long enough for Axford to find some consistency in the young season, but three outings were enough for the Brewers to pull the plug. Axford has allowed four home runs, eight hits and six runs in 2.2 innings for Milwaukee, and currently sports a 20.25 ERA.
Unbelievably, the Brewers are planning to keep Axford as their long-term closer, according to a post-game interview reported by the Associated Press.
“I told [Axford] that I want him to be our loser,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “How we think is the best to get him back in that role is pretty much what we did with him last year — put him back in wherever it’s going to be: sixth, seventh, maybe eighth [inning], and let him get his stuff back.”
Roenicke’s words come as somewhat of a surprise given Axford’s history as the Brewers’ closer. Last season, Axford lost his job because of similar struggles in the ninth inning. Once regaining his position, Axford converted 17 of his final 18 save opportunities in August of last season.
If Henderson has continued success, don’t expect for Axford to get his job back as easily this time around. The Brewers are not going to be willing to continue putting Axford in timeout mode while he figures out his control issues.
Even Henderson, however, seems to believe it’s Axford’s job, and he’s just filling in.
“He’s a great pitcher, and just watching his outing, his stuff is still great. He just needs to put it together consistently,” Henderson said to AP reporters following his first save of the season.
The Brewers seem committed to waiting for Axford, but if Henderson finds dominance in the National League, Axford will be in a timeout for a lot longer than he expected.
John Engel is a Pac-12 college basketball writer for Rant Sports and also works for ESPNLA 710 AM radio in Los Angeles. Follow John on Twitter: @engelsportsguy.