Pittsburgh, PN, United States (4E Sports) – The St. Louis Cardinals acquired John Axford and his 97 mile-per-hour fastball from the Milwaukee Brewers for a player yet to be identified.
With the Brewers out of the postseason, Axford was excited of transfering to a team that is still in contention.
He will join the Cardinals in Pittsburgh, where the Brewers just finished playing, for a three-game series beginning Friday.
“Right now, I’m going to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and I’m going to be contending for a division championship. That’s huge. That’s going to rekindle a lot of fire within me and get me going. Every game is going to be important,” said Axford.
The 30-year-old right-hander had 106 saves with a 3.35 ERA over five seasons with the Brewers.
Axford supplanted future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman as the Brewers closer in 2010, when he collected eight victories and converted 24 of 27 save chances in 50 games. He also had a 2.48 ERA, struck out 76 batters in 58 innings pitched and held opposing batters to a .201 average.
In his breakout year in 2011, Axford finished ninth for the National League Cy Young Award and 17th for NL Most Valuable Player Award in 2011, when he saved 46 games while posting a 1.95 ERA and striking out 86 batters in 73 2/3 innings.
He also had a franchise record 43 saves in a row, as the Brewers won their first division title since 1982.
But his game dipped the past two years, eventually losing the closer’s role to fellow Canadian Jim Henderson earlier in the season after failing to convert six opportunites and opposing hitters are batting .286 against him.
Axford, who has struck out 147 over 124 innings, could give the Cardinals a right-hander to pair with lefty Kevin Siegrist in the seventh inning.
This season he has a 6-7 record, 4.45 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak described Axford as a reliever that offers experience as both a setup man and closer and as a pitcher who brings familiarity with the NL Central, pennant-race baseball and the post-season.
“I think we’ll just get him in there and see how it works,” manager Mike Matheny said. “He’s a guy who has been in the back end of the ‘pen and has been in tight situations and has been in the race before, too. I think all that is valuable to us.”
The Simcoe, Ontario, native is making $5 million this season and will be eligible for arbitration next year.