By Todd Farino, The Closer Report
The Milwaukee Brewers are a team in disarray. Their MVP OF Ryan Braun is facing a 90 game suspense and the other half of their offense left to Detroit. If Casey McGehee was traded making room for newly signed Aramis Ramirez.
Even with all that going on, the Brewers are a team to be reckoned with. They still mount a potent offense and a pitching staff that can easily give them 6 quality inning on most days. They are supported by one of the top 2012 bullpens in the National League. It includes setup man Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Veras, and Kameron Loe. They all lead to John Axford. Axford came onto the scene in 2010 and has not looked back. He had a brutal start to the 2011 season and left doubt in the minds of some. After blowing his first save opportunity and two of his first five chances, Axford went on to convert his next 43 opportunities. 46/48 ain’t bad, but even better are his career numbers, 71/76. John Axford does one thing and one thing well, he gets the hardest three out in baseball on a consistent basis. To pile on that, he posted a 1.95 ERA and a10.51 K/9 in his sophomore season as closer.
With two strong years under his belt, Axford is still a risk with increasing potential. 2012 will be trying year for Axford. True closers doe it year after year and three years straight closing well is a major stepping stone. I don’t see any reason why John Axford will not continue his success as the Brewers closer this season. He has everything a closer needs in order to be success. Axford is mentally built for the job. Not only does he relish in the pressure of the job, but he has the sense of humor needed to put away a blown save and forget out it. His trademark handlebar mustache harkens back to Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage and anyway that Axford can get mentioned in the same sentence with those guys is a good thing.
Axford comes at hitters with more then a tough look and the determination for three outs. He delivers a very interesting set off pitches, fastball, curveball, and, slider. His location of his fastball is so good, that it makes his slider and curveball nearly unhittable. With a fastball that can reach 97 MPH, nobody wants to touch the slider and the curveball will buckle knees. Those three pitches result into nearly 50% ground balls and a whole bunch of strikeouts. That won’t change in 2012.
While it is expected that the Brewers will have less leads going into the ninth inning, it’s also expected that they will have a whole lot more close games then they did with Braun and Fielder in that lineup. Axford will have another huge year and the sky is the only limit for this closer.
<span style=”color: #3366ff;”><strong>The Closer Report 2012 Projections: 41 Sv – 4 Wins – 2.22 ERA – 1.16 WHIP – 79 Ks</strong></span>
<span style=”color: #3366ff;”><strong>2012 Fantasy Draft Analysis:</strong></span>
<span style=”color: #000000;”>Axford will be hard to predict where he will be drafted in individual fantasy drafts, but he will go early. According to early ADP results, John Aford is going around the 89th pick and as early as the 61st. I expect him to go much closer to the 61st pick and getting Axford in the 8th round or later is a steal.</span>