The Los Angeles Dodgers front office again was active at the non-waiver trade deadline, acquiring two position players in Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles and Brian Dozier from the Minnesota Twins, as well as reliever John Axford from the Toronto Blue Jays.
Machado was the early arrival, as that trade was completed during the All-Star break. Meanwhile, Dozier and Axford were deadline-day deals. While many felt bolstering the bullpen was the team’s biggest need, Axford wound up being the only addition the Dodgers made.
Axford appeared 45 games (one start) for the Blue Jays this season, going 4-1 while yielding a 4.41 ERA, 4.02 FIP and 1.26 WHIP. He struck out 50 while walking 20 in 51 innings of work. He has 144 saves in his 10-year career, so he is certainly an established big-league pitcher.
Although he may eventually become a key cog for manager Dave Roberts, Axford’s debut with the Dodgers was part of a collective night to forget. He entered in the eighth inning with Los Angeles trailing 5-0, but only retired one of seven batters faced and allowed six runs.
In addition to describing as the worst appearance of his career, the veteran right-hander asserted he can be much better, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“Not the best way to start, numbers-wise. It’s not like I was giving up a bunch of rockets, either. The hardest-hit ball was the only out that I got, but I wasn’t helping myself walking a couple guys, hitting a guy. A bounce here or there, there’s still runs on the board, but at least it looks a little nicer. … I have a little bit more to offer than what was just shown out there.”
Outside of closer Kenley Jansen, no one in the Dodgers bullpen really has an established role, which is something Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said likely won’t change for the remainder of the season and possible playoffs.
Axford presumably will be in the mix for high-leverage innings along with Scott Alexander, Dylan Floro and Daniel Hudson though as Los Angeles tries to piece together the back end of its bullpen after letting Brandon Morrow walk in free agency last offseason.
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