Milwaukee closer John Axford pitched a scoreless ninth inning on Wednesday, picking up his first save of the season.
Analysis: In his first appearance, on opening day, he blew a three-run lead to the Reds. The Brewers have invested too much into their pitching to have games blown by an inept closer. Given that Axford converted 24 of 27 save opportunities with 76 strikeouts in 58 innings pitched last year, the role is his to lose.
Projection: Brewers’ set-up man, Takashi Saito, has been a notable bullpen presence since his inaugural season in 2006 (84 saves, 2.19 ERA, 11.03K/9) However, the 41-year-old Japanese reliever will have to wait for Axford to give up a few more walk-off bombs until he has a shot at the closer’s job. Owners shouldn’t remove Axford from their starting lineups yet, perhaps he will bounce back to the form he showed last year. Seeing how quickly Fernando Rodney was yanked from the closer’s role in Anaheim, a change in Milwaukee would not be surprising if the struggle continues.