Despite the small scare on Tuesday night, John Axford has been on a bit of a roll since blowing a save on April 18 in Philadelphia.
In eight appearances since that blown save, Axford has only allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits, good for a 2.25 ERA. Opponents are only hitting .219 against him during that stretch, and he’s thrown 67% of his pitches for strikes.
Perhaps the most impressive thing, though? No walks over those eight appearances. Zero.
It’s not the best barometer of his control, as he’s had trouble throwing strikes in a few of those clean outings, but considering walks were one of the biggest reasons he was working himself into trouble, it’s an encouraging sign.
One meltdown can leave a massive dent in a reliever’s ERA, and even after back-to-back saves in which he hasn’t allowed an earned run, Axford’s season ERA is still at 5.02. Indulge yourself in a little bit of selection bias, though, and if you exclude his Opening Day blown save in Cincinnati, his ERA drops to 2.63 — much more “closer-ish.”
As the Brewers continue to climb out of the hole they dug themselves into with a seven-game losing streak, they’ll need the bullpen to nail down leads they carry into the late innings. If Axford keeps pitching the way he has for the past month, they shouldn’t have to worry too much.