For a few seasons, few closers in baseball were better than John Axford.
Complete with his chinstrap beard, Axford often found himself mowing down opposing hitters with relative ease as he held down the closing role for the Milwaukee Brewers. But then in a flash all of Axford’s success was gone. Literally almost overnight.
Axford began to struggle and with the poor play came a lack of confidence. The Brewers gave him some relief from the closing role but the struggles continued, eventually leading to the Brewers parting ways with their former closer.
The 30-year-old eventually latched on with the St. Louis Cardinals for the rest of the 2013 season and quickly found success which is being attributed to the Red Birds coaching staff as they apparently found and fixed a mechanical flaw in Axford’s delivery.
His fortunes turned when the Cardinals acquired him last Aug. 30. After he made “one little adjustment” in his delivery, batters no longer knew what to expect. Axford posted a 1.74 ERA in 13 games for St. Louis and topped it off with a 1.59 mark in six post-season games, including two scoreless outings against Boston in the World Series.
With Chris Perez no longer a member of the Cleveland Indians, Axford has a prime opportunity to run with the Indians closer job and if he pitches like he’s capable of doing, there’s no reason to think he won’t thrive in the role.