The NL has a very strong unit of pitchers. From the three qualified CY Young candidates in Philly to the two phenoms on the bay, the NL league’s choice for the pitching MVP is wide indeed. The last place most voters will look for is the bullpen, but maybe they should adjust their eyes to Milwaukee’s ‘pen and stare down the mustachioed phenomenon, John Axford.
Axford is baseball’s leading closer in saves at 40. He is also entering baseball history in consecutive save marks with 37 astounding chances converted. The bullpen savior from last year is also leading Major Leaguer's in games finished. Already having worked 62.2 innings and striking out 73 in that time he has the makings to be the first CY Young reliever since Eric Gagne did it while taking a needle in the ass. Looking at comparable closers who have won the CY Young, if Axford keeps us the work, he could have a good chance.
Looking at a few outstanding CY Young winning closers, Axford has the makings. The last one was Eric Gagne. Gagne’s season is historic with 55 saves in 82.1 IP the only thing Gagne did that year that Axford can’t touch was the remarkable 137 K’s Gagne was able to obtain. Gagne also did not have the same competition in the NL, as Axford is competing with several starters with ERA’s below 2.5 and records approaching 18 wins.
The most comparable is Mark Davis who won the award while pitching for the Padres. Like Axford, Davis had many logged innings beyond his save mark. Davis finished the season with 44 saves, a very reachable goal for the Axe-man, but had an ERA under 2. That is a goal I think Axford needs to obtain to have any hope to win the CY Young.
With one month to go, Axford still has a great chance to become a valid CY Young candidate compared to the pitching company he would be competing with. In order to have a viable chance, he needs to continue his streak of consecutive saves, lower is ERA and continue to strike out batters at a phenomenal rate. The Brewers closer is by far the best closer in baseball this year and deserves to be in talks for a national award outside of the Rolaids’s Relief Pitcher. He has been one the NL’s most dominant pitchers and very much so deserves to be recognized. Unfortunately the climb to a CY Young will be a very steep hill for the Axe Man, but nothing a closer who is constantly faced with adversity cannot handle.