Bullpen: Koji Uehara
The Red Sox brought in multiple “proven closers” to handle the ninth inning for the 2013 season but when they all failed, the job was entrusted to the unheralded Koji Uehara. The veteran from Japan didn’t disappoint.
His first season with the Red Sox was one of the most dominant performances we’ve ever seen by a reliever. He posted a minuscule 1.09 ERA and his 0.57 WHIP was the lowest ever recorded by an MLB pitcher (minimum 50 innings). Uehara also set a franchise record that year by retiring 37 consecutive batters.
Uehara spent four seasons in Boston, tallying 79 saves with a 2.19 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 11.6 K/9. His 6.1 fWAR led all Red Sox relievers this decade.
Koji was outstanding in the 2013 postseason when he allowed only one earned run in 13 2/3 innings. He was named MVP of the ALCS and logged a pair of saves in the World Series.
Strikeout-machine Craig Kimbrel was the more overpowering pitcher but he was also prone to bouts of wildness and was hard to trust during Boston’s 2018 postseason run. Koji pitched more innings for the Red Sox and had a better ERA, WHIP, and BB/9. If you had to select one Red Sox reliever from this decade to close out a big game, give me Koji Time.