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Before the season started I urged you to use caution when drafting John Axford. While he had the potential to pile up the saves, he struggled with his control at times.
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Right out of the gate he got blasted, blowing a save against the Reds in extreme fashion. Axford gave up four runs that day to walk away with a 54.00 ERA. In his seventh appearance Axford would blow another save. This time he only gave up one run, but he walked two batters. That gave him six walks in his first 6-1/3 innings.
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Had had allowed a run in three of his first seven outings. He only had on appearance that he did not allow a hit. With an 8.53 ERA and a  2.21 WHIP, Axford was a major disappointment.
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Since his second blown save, Axford had converted all four of his save attempts. He has a 2.25 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP in eight one-inning appearances. Three of his appearances he did not allow a hit, but more importantly, he hasn’t walked a batter over that stretch.
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As long as his control is under control, Axford can be one of the better closers in the National League. Despite his struggles, he has seven saves and 16 strikeouts in 14-1/3 innings. He certainly has Ron Roenicke’s confidence as he never put his closer on the hot seat. After Axford’ second blown save, Roenicke said “I’m really not concerned about him. He’s got too many good pitches to get hitters out.”
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While he may have another rough patch or two, Axford remains a solid option.
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John Axford came out of nowhere to save 24 games for the Brewers last year. He also sported a8-2 record with a 2.48 WHIP and a 1.19 ERA. He also recorded 76 strikeouts in 58 innings for a rock solid 11.8 strikeout per nine innings ratio.
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Axford was good before the All-Star Break going 5-1 with ten saves, a 3.12 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, and a .232 BAA. He was brilliant afterwards though as he went 3-1 with 14 saves, a 1.97 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP, and a .180 BAA.
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When you consider that Axford split time with Trevor Hoffman, who recorded ten saves of his own last year, the potential is even greater in his first full season with the closer gig. Especially when you factor in the improvements made to their pitching staff with the acquisition of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum.
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So is John Axford ready to become an elite closer? Maybe, but I would be a little cautious with him. For starters, he does have control issues. He walked 27 batters in 58 innings, or 4.2 per nine innings. His 1.19 WHIP was solid last year, but he posted a 1.43 WHIP to start the year for Triple-A Nashville, which matched his WHIP in his cup of coffee with the Brewers in 2009. His 1.30 WHIP for Double-A Huntsville and 1.27 for Triple-A Nashville in 2009 are far from dominating.
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At the root of his high WHIP totals is his control. He sported a 6.06 BB/9 ratio in his minor league career. He even struggled with it at the collegiate level, walking 118 batters in 144 innings (7.4 BB/9) for Notre Dame. If he continues to walk batters at an alarming rate, he could find himself out of the closer job, especially with LaTroy Hawkins (87 career saves) and Takashi Saito (84 career saves) waiting in the wings.
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I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom with Axford. He does have some serious potential. I just want to make sure you see the whole picture before selecting him on draft day.
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What are your thoughts on John Axford?
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