John Axford was recently removed from the closer's role in Cleveland, and not unjustly. Over his last four appearances (none against teams with winning records), he's allowed six hits, six walks, two homers and five earned runs.
This of course is not the first time Axford has pitched his way out of a closing gig, so his owners shouldn't feel blindsided.
For what it's worth, manager Terry Francona has left open the possibility that Axford might reclaim the ninth if he can uncharacteristically pitch in a not-terrible way for an extended period of time.
"The only answer I can give you is that when we put [Axford] back in the closer's role we want to keep him there," said Francona. "We want to be convinced of his consistency."
I mean...c'mon. Anything is possible, I suppose. But nobody should assume this demotion is merely temporary.
Bryan Shaw got the save for Cleveland on Sunday, pitching a clean inning against the top of the Rays' batting order, protecting a one-run lead. Cody Allen took the eighth. You might recall that Shaw (not Allen) also picked up a save last Tuesday versus the Twins, when Axford needed a break. This bullpen doesn't appear to be in committee-mode, no matter what the coaches say. Shaw is clearly the priority add. He's a cutter/slider guy with excellent ratios (1.45 ERA, 0.86 WHIP), coaxing a ton of swinging strikes (12.2 percent this year, 10.5 in 2013).
Add liberally, enjoy responsibly. Shaw is owned in just 17 percent of Yahoo leagues as of this writing.