I found Axford last year, when he finally supplanted a clearly-past-his-prime Trevor Hoffman. And, to be honest, the only real reason I remembered him was because of his mustache (which was closer to this at the time) and because he is Canadian. He's from Simcoe, ON, which I gather is about the size of Crawfordsville, IN. Which, if you happen to be one of the few people who read this that aren't connected to me, is about 15,000 people. It also helped that his debut was against the Cubs.
Axford has done a fine job this year. He's 23 for 25 in save chances, has only given up 15 runs in 41 innings (13 earned), and has generally just been solid. K-Rod blew up for the Angels during their run to the World Championship, but has floundered a bit since arriving in New York. A look at the whirlwind he found himself at the end of last year is a good indication of that. Still, the guy can definitely throw when he's right, and by all indications I can tell, he's right. He's also got 23 saves this year (not sure how many opportunities), and only given up 15 runs (all earned) in 42 innings.
Ron Roenicke, who is the Brewers' manager (in case you weren't keeping up, nobody would blame you), says he is going to use them as "co-closers," though I don't think anybody believes him. All stories I've read seem to indicate that Axford will be the closer with K-Rod as a set up man. K-Rod might come in and save some games when Axford needs a break, though. This NBC story seems to sum it all up. That statement feels like a political "Let's make the new guy feel good" thing more than anything.
The big picture, though, seems to be the Brewers are a really serious contender. We all know they can really mash the ball. That hasn't changed. They have very good starting pitching this year, which is a change from last year.* They have a solid closer now. That just leaves a shaky middle relief, which to be honest, I don't know if it's been that shaky or not. But adding K-Rod can only help. Oh, and have I mentioned the Brewers are already tied for first in the division?
*Actually, the starting pitching hasn't been quite as good as expected, especially with Zack Greinke. Which means there's a very good chance that is only going to get better in the second half. Oh, and did you hear about the "already in first place" thing?
If my predictions were any indication, I was already on the Brewers bandwagon this year. I was in the Reds camp, too, but that seems to have fizzled out this year. I would rather see the Pirates win the thing, true, I would be fine with the Brewers. Maybe a deep run would be enough to keep Prince Fielder around. I don't know who owns the Brewers, but I would hope they would do everything possible to keep him in town. He seems to be everything that is right with Milwaukee baseball, along with Ryan Braun. Milwaukee has been waiting a long time for a World Series championship. This really might be the team who can get that done.