In 58 innings in 2010, he had a 2.48 ERA, and the next year, he finished at 1.95 in 73.2 frames.
He had 46 saves in that 2011 season.
He remained serviceable between 2012 and 2016, then slipped in 2017 and 2018 and found himself out of the league.
He worked as a studio analyst for the Toronto Blue Jays’ TV broadcast crew at the start of the season, but after that, he pitched for Canada in an Olympic qualifier game.
An Unlikely Comeback Story
The idea of an MLB comeback began to appear in his head.
He signed a Minor League deal with the Jays in late June, and was hitting 98 mph at that point.
He went on to pitch nine games for the Blue Jays Triple-A affiliate, and he was very impressive.
He went 1-0 with an 0.84 ERA in his nine relief appearances, striking out 14 batters and conceding three walks and two hits in 10.2 innings.
According to ESPN, he started to generate MLB buzz.
“I had an open out with the Blue Jays that if any team wanted to take me to the big leagues and the Blue Jays weren’t willing to, I was able to go and leave and go to that team,” he said. “I know my agent was talking to a lot of teams, put out a lot of feelers and I think most teams were waiting to see what happened after the trade deadline.”
He said that he heard the Milwaukee Brewers were interested to use him as an MLB reliever amid a COVID-19 crisis.
He took the chance and went to Milwaukee, which was his home for five years.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) August 3, 2021
The Brewers paid $1 to the Blue Jays in a transaction that went through after the deadline because it wasn’t an MLB trade.
Destiny, however, got in the way.
He did make his return to the big leagues after three seasons, but retired just one of the five batters he faced before leaving with an elbow issue.
Craig Counsell said that Axford, after undergoing an MRI, won’t pitch again this season.
An Injury Ruined Things
It goes without saying that the MRI revealed some structural damage, and there is not enough time left in the 2021 season for Axford to recover from the injury.
John Axford has significant structural damage in his elbow and won’t pitch again this season, Craig Counsell says. Axford is weighing his options in terms of treatment.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) August 4, 2021
It’s a real bummer, since he was on his way to contributing to an MLB bullpen as a 38-year-old.
Axford is a highly respected player among Brewers fans, having earned 106 saves during his previous five-year stint in Milwaukee.
If this is the end of the road for him, he will go into retirement with a 3.86 ERA and 144 saves, having played with seven franchises.
The official numbers of his comeback attempt are a 54.00 ERA in 0.1 innings, and a 9.00 WHIP.