In a not-so-surprising move, Boston did not use Uehara on Friday night despite the game being on the line. Instead, they opted for Edward Mujica.
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Lately, the Japanese closer has not been himself. Over his last 4 2/3 innings, he has allowed 11 earned runs. His ERA over the past few outings stands at 21.43. As it stands right now, it appears as though the Boston Red Sox broke Koji Uehara.
Split between 2013 and 2014, Uehara has tossed 149 1/3 innings during the regular and post season. Fatigue definitely may be an issue whether or not Uehara admits it. Tossing 103 1/3 in 2011 and 2012 combined, Uehara has seen a huge workload increase recently. Not only this but he is being used in high-leverage situations as the team’s closer, which takes more out of a pitcher.
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Since Uehara is in a contract year, the timing of his struggles could not be worse. Boston will be hesitant to pay a struggling, aging, closer who could possibly receive a qualifying offer of $15 million for 2015.
Although he still may have a little left in the tank, Boston may want to have a backup plan in case Uehara regresses next year.
Edward Mujica and Rubby De La Rosa are both internal options who could potentially close. In 2013, Mujica closed 37 games for the Cardinals and has pitched much better as of late posting a 2.28 ERA over his last 26 outings.
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Although he lacks closing experience, De La Rosa is an interesting option as well. The hard-throwing righty has plenty of swing-and-miss stuff and boasts a fastball which tops out in the triple digits. De La Rosa looks good in the rotation and Mujica has more experience which may make Mujica the more appealing option.