If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
John Axford, entering today’s game, had faced 17 save situations. Despite one blown save, the Brewers had come away with the win in every single one of these situations. Indeed, Axford has been one of the best relievers in baseball this season. Axford’s 2.08 FIP is seventh in the NL and within 0.14 runs of league leader Carlos Marmol (who is just a crazy story in himself this year). His 2.59 xFIP stands up similarly well to the rest of the league. Hopefully we understand the dangers of proclaiming a closer the next big thing in Milwaukee, but it’s hard not to be impressed by Axford’s combination of stuff and control this season, especially while doing it in a high leverage situation for the first time in his career.
Axford couldn’t overcome his first appearance with two walks in the season, which is an amazing statistic in itself (h/t Journal Sentinel) – Axford even recognizes himself that it will be hard for him to keep his run of success without keeping the walks down.
The “other closer,” Trevor Hoffman, showed why he still isn’t good in high leverage situations today. He’s exceptionally hittable and still doesn’t have that stupendous control of the strike zone that brought him so much success over his career. Hoffman walked two batters himself and allowed three runs to sink the Brewers in the 10th.
Chris Dickerson, today’s new acquisition, was left in the on-deck circle, so his much-ballyhooed debut will have to wait until tomorrow.