John Axford – Flamethrower from Port Dover
Regardless of how much you value his pitching abilities, John Axford becoming a Toronto Blue Jay is an undoubtedly great story. Growing up in the small town of Port Dover, Ontario, Axford was a big Jays fan in his youth. After eight big league seasons, the Ax Man has finally come home.
On the field, Axford has been nothing short of brilliant, pitching to a 2.08 ERA over 13.0 innings, striking out 13 and walking six. He’s appeared primarily in the eighth inning when the Jays are far ahead or far behind. He’s pitched two full innings on two separate occasions.
Some might say that the lack of pressure in Axford’s appearances diminishes his overall value, and that’s a valid point. Having only appeared in a one-run game twice, Axford is not by any means pitching in high-pressure situations. Still, it’s hard to argue with a sub-2.50 ERA and over ten innings in the first month of the season.
Best of all, the Jays picked him up on a minor-league deal. It was a low-risk, high reward deal that has paid off so far. His velocity, while slightly lower than his career standard, is still excellent and he’s confident when he takes the bump.
If he keeps up his quiet dominance, the Blue Jays might have something here. For now, we can expect Ax to continue to work in low-pressure situations until he can consistently prove that he’s fit to appear in close games.