Will John Axford Help The Pirates?
By Tom Smith
May 7, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher John Axford (44) delivers in the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired John Axford in a waiver claim. The Pirates bullpen has been poor throughout the season. Axford is a right hander that on the outside appears to be able to make it worse. The numbers on Axford are awful. Stolmy Pimentel seems to be the corresponding roster move according to David Manuel.
Axford lost the closer’s job on May 10 with the Indians. He got over it and was pitching, well better in a different role for the Tribe. But on a team that needs effective bullpen help, it’s hard to look at this acquisition as helping the Pirates immediate need.
The Indians installed him as their closer again, and it’s been rocky for the Tribe. In the month of August, Axford has appeared in only three games giving up a pile of runs for an ERA of 12.00. Gulp. If anyone can help Axford regain his form, it’s the Bucs.
The projects keep coming at Bucs guru Jim Benedict and Ray Searage. Fixing Axford won’t be easy, but perhaps…perhaps someone has noticed something the reliever is doing and feel they can correct it. The Indians paid him over $4 million bucks to come and be their closer, but it’s just another reason the Tribe is floundering around .500 as injuries have mounted. The Pirates will control Axford as well next season.
With some help from the Bucco gurus it can be expected that Axford will do what Ernie Frieri did, oh wait, I mean Joel Hanrahan, Mark Melancon and the like. It was likely a buy low option for the Bucs and buckle up, the late innings might get even more interesting. Axford has swing and miss stuff, piling up over 50 strikeouts in in over 43 innings. But it’s the walks that haunt him and Axford has 30 this season. Let’s go Jim and Ray!