At the beginning to the 2013 season when Andrew Bailey was busy spinning, crashing and burning and the Red Sox looked like they were heading for another bullpen by committee situation while they quickly attempted to secure the services of a “real” closer, Koji Uehara stepped into the interim role and made it his own.
The 38-year old from Osaka, Japan quite simply has been lights out for the Sox. His 1.24 ERA is the best in the American League among closers and he is second only in the majors to Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel with a 1.03 ERA. His 0.66 WHIP is the best in the bigs this year. His 12.3 Ks per nine innings is among the best in Major League Baseball as well. He has posted the best strike out to walk ratio in Major League Baseball history. Since the All-Star break opponents have hit .111 against him. Need I go on?
Perhaps his most impressive statistic, however, is runs allowed. Uehara has not allowed a run since June 30. This is a guy whose position demands that he live on the razor’s edge. Closers live and die on one run leads, sometimes croaking in spectacular fashion. No so with Uehara.
“Given the roles he’s been in, he’s been in a high stress situation since beginning of season,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told masslive.com’s Evan Drellich. “Whether it’s been pivotal innings seventh eighth or ninth and he continues to roll along and he’s doing one heckuva job.’’
Uehara’s durability and consistency has paid off for both parties. The Red Sox got an unexpectedly solid closer and Uehara, by virtue of the fact that he made his 55th appearance on August 13 against the Blue Jays, triggered a $4.25 million vesting option for 2014. No wonder the guy has been getting increasingly pumped up with each appearance and save.