MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers will miss more than Francisco Rodriguez's perfect save percentage and 1.09 ERA, former teammate John Axford and manager Ron Roencike said.
The Brewers traded Rodriguez to Baltimore on Tuesday night for third-base prospect Nicky Delmonico in the first of what could be a series of moves ahead of next week's nonwaiver Trade Deadline. Alfredo Figaro was reinstated from the disabled list Wednesday to take Rodriguez's spot on the roster, and Axford and Jim Henderson will take over closer duties.
"I don't really think it's a coincidence that since he's been on this team, I've thrown my best, in all honesty," Axford said. "He's helped me a lot this year. He's helped me a lot in the past. I'm definitely going to remember the last few years, especially the shutdown season we had in 2011 in the second half."
The Brewers acquired Rodriguez the night of the 2011 All-Star Game, let him walk in free agency after 2012, then re-signed him to a Minor League deal this April when Rodriguez was still looking for work. He earned a promotion to the Majors in May and claimed the closer's role in June, going 10-for-10 in save chances and finally reaching the 300-saves plateau.
The Brewers promoted Rodriguez on May 15, the day Axford, whose blown save the night before had boosted his ERA to 9.20, began a club-record-tying streak of 23 appearances without allowing an earned run.
"I honestly don't think that's a coincidence," Axford said. "He's been a tremendous help and a great supporter to me."
"Most people in baseball don't understand what Frankie does down in the bullpen other than coming out and pitching," Roenicke said.
Roenicke and Rodriguez go back to 2002, when Rodriguez was a rookie sensation for the world-champion Angels, and Roenicke was on that team's coaching staff.
"Frankie has been a leader down there for a long time," Roenicke said. "When I was with him with the Angels, he was the guy that kept that group together there. I mean getting them prepared and telling the young guys what they needed to do, and who they're going to come in and face. That knowledge and experience ... was big here, also. That will be missed."
Roenicke reiterated Wednesday that he would use both Axford and Henderson in save situations, and perhaps left-hander Michael Gonzalez on occasion (assuming Gonzalez, another free agent-to-be is not traded).
"And then if one of them is going to be lights-out, he's going to do that job more," Roenicke said.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.