Roenicke: K-Rod the closer for Wednesday
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke used closer John Axford for two innings of Tuesday’s extra-inning win over the Rockies at Miller Park, and made the point afterward that he’ll need Francisco Rodriguez to step in as closer on Wednesday.
Talk about timing.
During the late innings of the game, CBS Sportsline published a story in which Rodriguez expressed his strongest disappointment yet about pitching exclusively as a set-up man to Axford. When the Brewers traded for Rodriguez in July, they said he would get occasional save opportunities when Axford needed a break. Axford has converted all 19 of his save chances since then, and Rodriguez is still waiting for his first.
“I’m not fine,” Rodriguez told the website. “They told me I’d have the opportunity to close some games, and we’ve had 20-some save opportunities since then and I haven’t even had one.”
He said he was “disappointed” that he’s only pitched one ninth inning.
Rodriguez could get a chance on Wednesday. Axford is off-limits, Roenicke said, after pitching the ninth and 10th innings of a 2-1 win over Colorado decided on Ryan Braun’s walk-off home run.
It marked the first time this season that Roenicke let Axford pitch more than one inning. Last year, Axford had nine saves of four or more outs.
Why did Roenicke feel comfortable this time?
“Eight pitches,” he said, referring to Axford’s workload in the ninth. “That’s why. Tomorrow, he’s off, and then [Thursday] is an offday. We knew if he went two [innings] today, he’d have two days off. I certainly don’t like to do that much late in the season, but we have Frankie as our closer tomorrow. We went for it.”
Roenicke saw no discernable difference between Axford’s first inning and his second.
“He maintained his stuff,” Roenicke said. “We’ve talked about doing that with him before, and all the times before he’s had 12-15 pitches and he says he’s fine to go another inning and I haven’t felt comfortable doing it. I did today.”
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