John Axford blew another save opportunity on Monday night, his sixth in 22 chances so far this season. After his latest disaster, there was no immediate vote-of-confidence from Axford's manager.
When Ron Roenicke was asked if he was considering other ninth inning options, he had this to say: "We talk about it all the time. We talked about it just now and we will again tomorrow."
Uh-oh, Axford owners. The obvious add here is setup man Francisco Rodriguez, a guy with 292 career saves on his resume. K-Rod's year-to-date fantasy ratios aren't exactly eye-popping (3.67 ERA, 1.42 WHIP), but they're a whole lot better than Axford's (5.35, 1.57). Rodriguez has been lights-out in recent weeks, while Milwaukee's closer has been excruciatingly bad. Check Axford's stats since June 1: 7.64 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, .947 OPS allowed, 6 HR in 17.2 IP.
Again: Uh-oh. Axford has already issued nearly as many walks this year (21) as he did all of last season (25), in half the innings. This is a man who's battled command issues throughout his career — his lifetime minor league BB/9 is 6.0. Axford has pitched on back-to-back days and he threw 36 pitches on Monday, so he seems due for a day off. He may also be due for reassignment to a new inning.
It's well past time to make the move to add K-Rod. He's owned in only 16 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so most of you can do this thing. Get to it.
(Reminder: The "ranks" below are about the relative certainty of each team's closer situation. We're not rating the talent of each pitcher).
Job Security Index
30. Miami — Steve Cishek & Mike Dunn, Heath Bell
29. Minnesota — Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Matt Capps
28. Milwaukee — Francisco Rodriguez & John Axford
27. Los Angeles Angels — Ernesto Frieri & Scott Downs
26. Chicago Cubs — Carlos Marmol, Shawn Camp, James Russell
25. New York Mets — Bobby Parnell, Jon Rauch
24. Seattle — Tom Wilhelmsen, Brandon League, Charlie Furbush
23. Boston — Alfredo Aceves, Vicente Padilla
22. Houston — Brett Myers, Brandon Lyon, Wilton Lopez
21. Detroit — Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit
20. Kansas City — Jonathan Broxton, Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, Kelvin Herrera
19. San Francisco — Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo
18. Chicago White Sox — Addison Reed, Matt Thornton
17. Washington — Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett
16. Arizona — JJ Putz, David Hernandez
15. Toronto — Casey Janssen, Darren Oliver
14. San Diego — Huston Street, Dale Thayer, Luke Gregerson
13. Colorado — Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle, Rex Brothers
12. Baltimore — Jim Johnson, Pedro Strop
11. Oakland — Ryan Cook, Grant Balfour
10. Tampa Bay — Fernando Rodney, Kyle Farnsworth
9. St. Louis — Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs
8. New York Yankees — Rafael Soriano, David Robertson
7. Pittsburgh — Joel Hanrahan, Jason Grilli, Juan Cruz
6. Cleveland — Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano
5. Cincinnati — Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall
4. Los Angeles Dodgers — Kenley Jansen, Ronald Belisario
3. Texas — Joe Nathan, Mike Adams
2. Atlanta — Craig Kimbrel, Kris Medlen
1. Philadelphia — Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo
• Steve Cishek earned the first post-break save for the Fish, striking out three batters over 1.2 innings on Saturday. But hard-throwing left-hander Mike Dunn got the save chance on Monday, and he converted successfully (though he had to pitch around a hit and a walk). And Edward Mujica is due back from the DL any day now. And Heath Bell is still lurking, making a billion dollars. So that bullpen situation is plenty murky. We should note that Juan Carlos Oviedo (the guy who used to be Leo Nunez) is out indefinitely with a UCL strain, so he won't enter the mix.
• Sergio Santos is officially done for the year, so there's no sense holding on any longer. This news shouldn't be treated as a complete tragedy for Jays fans, because Casey Janssen has nailed down the closer's role. And just in case you care: According to Santos himself, he wasn't damaged goods on arrival. Dunno if that's entirely accurate, but there it is.
• Frank Francisco suffered a setback in his return from his oblique injury, so Bobby Parnell gets a bit more time in the closer's chair. The Mets have been linked to Huston Street in trade rumors, and New York would clearly be a nice landing spot for him. If he leaves San Diego, Luke Gregerson and/or Dale Thayer would presumably take over the ninth. Thayer has allowed just one run over his last 10 innings, striking out nine batters and issuing three walks. He was the interim earlier this season when Street hit the DL.
• Matt Capps made his return from the DL on Saturday, but not with impressive velocity. He then allowed two hits and two runs in an appearance against the O's on Monday, giving up a homer to the hitting-challenged Endy Chavez. We likely haven't seen the last of the Perkins/Burton committee.
• Orioles closer Jim Johnson was torched in a non-save situation on Monday, giving up five earned runs to the Twins while recording just one out. He's allowed eight hits and eight runs (six of them earned) over his two appearances since the All-Star break. Obviously Johnson's terrific first half performance earned him a decent leash; just keep Pedro Strop on your radar.