Now if one read that title in either April or May, I would immediately be questioned for use of crack. It is now September and a lot has changed since the start of the 2014 season. Koji Uehara is no longer invincible, Brock Holt is no longer batting .350, and Edward Mujica is pitching like he did back in 2013.
On Thursday September 11, Boston Red Sox pitcher Edward Mujica earned his fifth save of the year in place of former closer Koji Uehara. Since the All-Star break, Mujica’s 2.11 ERA in 25 appearances suggest he is not the horrific pitcher he was early on in the season. Posting a 10.00 ERA in ten April outings, some people were ready to give up on him. Now however, this is simply not the case.
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Narrowly avoiding Mark Melancon syndrome, Mujica is no longer pitching poorly like he did at the beginning of the season. Before the break, hitters loved facing Mujica — now, not so much. They hit .319 off the righty beforehand and are now hitting .256 off him since. Although .256 does not scream dominance, Mujica pitches to contact more than most closers as his career K/9 is well below average for a closer — 7.09. He still experiences success nonetheless.
He does not however, come into the closer’s role without experience. Posting a 2.78 ERA in 65 outings last year, Mujica notched 37 saves in 41 opportunities for the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals suggesting that he has what it takes to close games in Boston.
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Right now, Edward Mujica has a golden opportunity to prove himself once again as a closer. With this season meaning nothing for the Boston Red Sox, it is clear Uehara will not be seeing the ball in the ninth again this season. With a few more sharp outings, Mujica will leave a good impression on manager John Farrell and the sky is the limit from there.
At this point, unfortunately Koji Uehara may be done for. He will turn 40 before Opening Day next season and has been ineffective as of late surrendering 11 earned runs over the last 4 2/3 innings he has tossed. It would be ludicrous for Boston to offer the Japanese pitcher a qualifying offer as many have suggested. A qualifying offer would give Uehara an excess of $15 million a year. Instead if Boston opts for Mujica, a cheaper option, they would be saving over $10 million a year.