When the Red Sox won the World Series last fall, Koji Uehara stood on the field of Fenway Park in a post-game interview alongside his translator and his young son, Kaz. After winning the ALCS, Koji said on his blog that it didn’t feel real, and followed up by saying the World Series “felt like a dream.” A dream would be an understatement. Koji approached the playoffs with an astonishing 27-game streak without giving up a run, and went on to give up just seven hits and one run all post-season.
Now, almost eight months later, Koji Uehara’s dream continues.
While the fate of the Red Sox sits in unsure hands, the work of Koji Uehara has been undoubtedly good. The 6′ 2″ native of Neyagwa, Japan has given up just two runs all season, while posting a 0.68 ERA (second lowest in MLB for pitchers with at least 25 innings). While dealing, he has struck out 36 of the 98 batters he has faced, and has yet to blow a save in 12 opportunities.
Koji, being a humble man, opted not to speak about his All-Star chances after being asked about it on Monday:
“I don’t want to talk about something that hasn’t happened,” Uehara said, with the help of interpreter C.J.Matsumoto. “It’s too early.” He also said he thinks he will “be playing golf,” in mid-July. “That is what I think I will be doing. But you never know.”
However, his teammates, such as two time All-Star Jon Lester, were less hesitant to talk:
“He deserves it, there are closers with more saves but I don’t know anybody who has been more effective. I love watching the guy pitch. He’s the same every time.”
John Farrell also discussed the work that Koji has put in for his team:
“He’s performed at such an elite level not for just this year but for a long period. In our eyes he’s certainly an All-Star. But before suggesting he’s going to be there in Minnesota we’re hopeful there’s many more save opportunities between now and the break.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked. Multiple innings in tie games…more than three outs in a save situation. He’s a breath of fresh air and he’s one hell of a pitcher.”
Koji, an eight-time All-Star in Japan, Olympian, World Baseball Classic pitcher, and World Series Champion, has never been a part of an All-Star game in the MLB.
This could be his year.