John Axford grabbed his 20th save of the season yesterday, striking out the side to convert his second save chance in as many days. He’s back, folks! Reports claim that John Axford asked, nay, demanded, nay!, politely requested that manager Roe Roenicke return him to the closer role, and well, it seems “please” really is the magic word! After Tuesday’s game Roenicke was quoted as saying, “I think he pitched well enough to allow us the confidence that we think we can put him back in there now.” LIAR! The Milwaukee bullpen must be the death of standards because Axford has had an unimpressive 6.35 ERA in just 5.2 innings in August before yesterdays outing, and a 4.85 ERA since being yanked from the role in mid-July. However, he has still been arguably better than Jim Henderson has been since he took over the ninth inning gig. Since grabbing his first save on August 8, Jimbo has pitched 5.1 innings, giving up 3 ER (5.06 ERA) and 8 hits (2.06 WHIP). We are talking about the lesser of evils here, and Axford is their guy because, well, he asked nicely? Although he pitched a scoreless 8th to get the hold yesterday, Jim Henderson was also called into the game in the ninth inning Tuesday night with the lead and allowed Manny Parra’s 2 runs off a hit before the Manager called upon his new old closer. Roenicke eased Axford back into the role, giving him the easy one out save and it looks like this helped him get his mojo back. You can do it, John! Trust in yourself and you can achieve anything! Well, you don’t have to trust him, that entire Brewers’ bullpen is more garbage than Shirley Manson, but if you need saves John Axford looks like the pitcher to own at the moment and he should be the recipient of a number of chances going forward.
What are you doing to me, Bochy! ARGH! Javier Lopez notched his 3rd save of the year and his second in back to back days. For the second day in a row, Sergio Romo came in to start the ninth but was replaced by Lopez after giving up a hit both Monday and Tuesday. It looks like Bochy is going to stick with his word; “The committee shall stand!” and he’ll be strictly playing matchups for the rest of the year. This is bad news for fantasy owners and its hard to see any of the bunch (Santiago Casilla, Lopez, Romo or Jeremy Affledt), having serious value for the rest of the season. I think Lopez is probably the best pitcher in that pen to own at the moment, but that could change by tomorrow morning as Casilla will likely get his chance again versus righties as soon as he gets rid of the herpes breakout on his hands. We’ll be lucky to see any one of these guys getting 5 saves through the rest of the season, and if there are better options out there I wouldn’t blame you for dropping any of these lovable loafs at this point.
Tom Layne got his first major league save last night striking out one in a scoreless inning. The 27-year-old southpaw was called up a week ago and and in 4.1 innings since he’s allowed 0 ER and just one base runner with 8 strikeouts. Layne had a 3.28 ERA with with 36 Ks in 35.2 IP at Double-A San Antonio and we need to know — could he be San Diego’s new ninth inning man for now? Meanwhile, Dale Thayer blew his third save of the year Tuesday night and has not exactly run away with the job since being named to the closer role last week. Since Thayer pitched the two nights previous, Manager Bud Black may have gone to Layne just because Thayer was unavailable. In three appearances since his being renamed the closer after Huston Street went down with injury, Dale “I Like It When You Do It Right” Thayer has pitched 3.0 innings, surrendering 6 hits and 3 ER. Not exactly inspiring numbers, especially with Luke “I Am Not Actually Your Father, But I Have Met Him and He’s A Real Stand-Up Guy” Gregerson hovering behind Thayer in a set-up role, and pitching his skywalking butt off. Luke holds a 2.41 ERA on the year and hasn’t surrendered a run since July 3. He has given up just 5 hits and 3 BBs in 9.2 innings with 11 Ks in the month of August. Despite Gregerson’s hot hand, and his lightning stuff and the fact that he or even Tom Layne should obviously be the interim closer over the 31-year-old Dale Thayer and his career 4.43 ERA, the Padres have nowhere to go but down at this point, and thus have very little motivation to win games this season. I’m not saying they should be tanking games with a bum closer (god forbid!), but they may or may not be thinking about considering increasing the likelihood of the possibility that they might receive a slightly better draft pick next year. In addition, with Huston Street on track to return sometime in early September, I’d expect Thayer to hold down the closer duties at least until Street is ready to go, but it now looks like we might see Tom Layne get some chances versus lefties.
Oklahoma City Thunder Round: Grant Balfour continues to impress in the closer gig, and what was once though as a short break for former closer Ryan Cook, Balfour took as the opportunity to steal his job back (yoink!), converting 5 straight scoreless save chances. As the A’s ninth inning man, he should continue to have major value down the stretch. After a rough outing on Saturday where he barely escaped with the save after allowing 2 ER on 3 hits in Colorado, Steve Cishek tallied his 10th save of the season Tuesday night, pitching a scoreless inning and striking out 2. Steve-O has a 2.12 ERA on the season, and as long as he doesn’t slip up, Cishek should hold the closer job over the struggling Heath Bell. Aroldis “Cheerio Old” Chapman got his 31st save of the season Tuesday night in a scoreless inning. He now has a 1.31 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and 112 Ks in just 61 IP. That’s no man — that’s a Cuban android! We’re lucky he’s on our side. I’m ashamed at how early I will be drafting him next year, and he might well be worth it.