Milwaukee Brewers pitcher John Axford - Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: No Relief In These Numbers!


The Baltimore Orioles are reported to be very highly interested in relief pitcher John Axford who finished the season with the Cardinals and was non-tendered, though most of his career has been with the Milwaukee Brewers.

He was the top saves pitcher in the National League in 2011 with 46, but his ERA soared in 2012 from 1.95 to 4.67.  He brought it down to 4.02 this past season.

The 30-year-old 6’5” right-hander is a strikeout guy, though statistics will show he is also a base-on-balls guy. If he is the closer, Orioles fans will need Rolaids for relief!

So what is the attraction? Well, there is this: Right-handers have hit .238 off him, and lefties even less at .225 … so that’s good for sure!

However, how many of you are old enough to remember Jorge Julio?  His top season with the Orioles in terms of saves was in 2003 where he registered 36.  Julio’s WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) was 1.524 that year. Last year, Axford’s was 1.523!  This looks too much like the second coming of Jorge!

If you have to have a designated regular ninth inning pitcher to save a game – again, a role that I dispute is truly necessary – it has to be person who can pitch with a WHIP of closer to 1.100 or better. The person to have gotten is the one the Red Sox just secured – Edward Mujica – whose WHIP in 2013 was 1.005.

Geez – just what the Red Sox needed was another pitcher like Koji Uehara who seldom walks anyone! Mujica walked only five in 65 innings … Axford?  26 in the same! (But then there is the report also that opposing hitters were over .300 on Mujica after the All-Star break – so there are no big winners in this category.)

Can Orioles fans handle a return to the days of characters like Jorge Julio, or more recently, Kevin Gregg?  Would any of you like to have Gregg back? There is no chance of that (thankfully), but to add another scary angle here, Gregg’s statistics this past year for the Cubs were rather better than Axford’s numbers with the Brewers and Cardinals. Gregg’s ERA was 3.48 as compared to the 4.02 of Axford. Gregg gave up 53 hits in 62 innings, while Axford gave up 20 more hits in only three more innings!

Here is a summary chart I’ve generated that lays out the points discussed above, comparing the 2013 stats of Axford, Gregg, and Mujica, along with the 2003 season of Julio.

Name

Age

Tm

W

L

ERA

G

SV

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

WHIP

H/9

HR/9

BB/9

SO/9

Axford

30

Mil

7

7

4.02

75

0

65.0

73

32

29

10

26

65

1.523

10.1

1.4

3.6

9.0

Gregg

35

Cubs

2

6

3.48

62

33

62.0

53

26

24

6

32

56

1.371

7.7

0.9

4.6

8.1

Julio – 03

24

Balt

0

7

4.38

64

36

61.2

60

36

30

10

34

52

1.524

8.8

1.5

5.0

7.6

Mujica

29

SL

2

1

2.78

65

37

64.2

60

20

20

9

5

46

1.005

8.4

1.3

0.7

6.4

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