The Brewers had one of the game’s best closers during last year in John Axford. During the 2011 season, Axford posted a 1.95 ERA with 86 strikeouts and saving a career high 46 games. When the Brewers had the lead heading into the ninth inning, they could almost write in the victory on the scorecard in pen.
After his stellar 2011 season, Axford fell off a bit in 2012 when he blew nine saves and his ERA ballooned to 4.67 over 69.1 innings. The Brewers had hoped it was a tough year for him and he would bounce back in 2013, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
The 30-year-old doesn’t seem to have made any progress so far this season. Axford has allowed six earned runs in just under three innings, including a blown save on opening day against the Colorado Rockies.
Axford was recently informed of a switch at the backend of the bullpen. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke decided he would move Jim Henderson into the closer role for the time being and let Axford workout his issues in the middle innings or during a setup role.
During Wednesday’s tilt against the Cubs, the Brewers held the 3-1 lead heading into the seventh inning. Axford was called into the game with two outs in the inning, only to give up three earned runs and surrendering the lead to the Cubs.
A once-outstanding closer seems to have a number of problems and the Brewers look to have made the right decision to change closers and try something new. Only time will tell if Axford can get his stuff back and resume his role as team closer.
These two teams finish up their three-game series on Thursday. The Brewers will hand the ball to newly acquired Kyle Lohse, while the Cubs will go with Scott Feldman. First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m. CT from Wrigley Field.