John Axford returns

Posted by Jason Wojciechowski on May 21, 2017 at 12:12 PM

Unfortunately, the return of John Axford happens just in time to see Ryan Dull hit the disabled list with a knee injury. The imaging already shows no structural damage, though, so that's good.

Susan Slusser's story also mentions that Sean Doolittle is working his way back and, despite it being another shoulder injury, it's maybe not as big a deal as in times past. The talk is a mid-June return.

Dull hasn't been as top-notch as he was last year, to say the least, but he's still had a trusted, high-leverage role. That means his injury leaves a hole, and I'm curious to see whether Axford, who hasn't pitched this year and who was good/fine last year, in line with his career norm, or Liam Hendriks, who struggled early but has allowed a .466 OPS with a 15:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last 13 games (14⅔ innings), will fill it. Personally, I think Hendriks has earned it so far, and that Axford should be given a little breathing room to make sure he's all there before taking the toughest assignments. It's worth noting that Hendriks may have already moved up the trustedness scale: in four of his last six appearances, the leverage index was over one, including the extra-innings game against the Angels, in which he pitched ahead of Dull.