Koji Uehara Makes His Return to the Sox

Koji Uehara

Coinciding with the home opener, Koji Uehara was activated from the disabled list on Monday, after being limited in Spring Training due to a hamstring injury. His first save opportunity came on Tuesday night against the Nationals and he did not disappoint.

In an 8-7 Sox win Uehara threw 14 pitches, 10 for strikes, as he was his usual efficient self on the mound while strikinng out two. A very loud foul ball was hit by Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, that went just foul down the left field line, so close to being fair the umpires reviewed it.Koji Uehara Fortunately for the Red Sox the call on the field was upheld and Uehara got Zimmerman to fly out to left field on the next pitch.

Uehara’s return signaled the end to Edward Mujica in the closer spot for the time being. Mujica gave up two solo home runs in his two appearances before Tuesday night. Mujica got the win Tuesday night after going 1 1/3 striking out two. It is still expected that John Farrell will call on Mujica when Uehara needs a day or two of rest, as fatigue could be a factor this season for him, so that is something to keep an eye on.

With Uehara’s return, Tommy Layne was sent down to Pawtucket where he will join Dana Eveland as a lefty in the bullpen. Craig Breslow and Robbie Ross Jr. remain the lefties out of the bullpen for the big league club.

The expectations for Koji Uehara this season are something Red Sox fans seem unsure of. Can he be the lights out closer like he was for the tail end of 2013 and early 2014? Or will he struggle like he did in the second half of last season? Seeing a clean inning from the closer is obviously a good sign, but for the Sox to feel confident in their bullpen, it starts with the closer. With some shaky starts from the rotation the past few days and that 19 inning contest from last week, the bullpen has been used quite often, so a healthy and effective Uehara will only help pitchers like Robbie Ross Jr. and Anthony Varvaro get acclimated to their roles on this club.

Edward Mujica to Serve as B Closer

edward mujica

Despite what some may say, Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell seems confident that reliever Edward Mujica is still in the picture this season.
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A few weeks back, the possibility of him being traded was discussed, but Farrell said that he along with Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Alexi Ogando would make of the core of Boston’s bullpen.edward mujica

If anything were to happen to Koji Uehara, the skipper pointed out that Edward Mujica would close out games, or if the soon-to-be 40-year-old just needs a night off.
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Currently, Mujica is serving out his final year of a two year contract which may come as a surprise after how poorly he pitched early on last year.

For Mujica, the 2015 season truly was a tale of two cities, after surrendering ten earned runs in nine innings pitched back in April, he closed out the first half of the season with a 5.45 ERA in 35 outings.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, Mujica stepped up his game and really turned things around late in the season, posting a 1.78 ERA in the second half last year. In his final 29 games of the year, he surrendered just five earned runs in 25.1 frames and notched six saves in just as many attempts.
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With the last two spots in the bullpen up for grabs, Robbie Ross Jr., Anthony Varvaro and Brandon Workman all look to make an impact in later innings, but do not count LOOGY Tommy Layne and knuckleballer Steven Wright out of the competition just yet.

While Ross and Varvaro have the advantage in terms of big league track record, Ross does have two options remaining and Varvaro can be dealt if it comes down to it.
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At this point, it would make sense that one of the remaining bullpen spots goes to a lefty and while Varvaro is not a lefty, southpaws are hitting .196 off of him in 270 at-bats, so he and Ross are likely fighting for one spot while Brandon Workman might just slide his way onto the team unopposed.

Red Sox Acquire Anthony Varvaro

anthony varvaro

This trade directly relates to the compensation the Boston Red Sox received for Theo Esptein, meaning it could make-or-break that deal from a few years ago.
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In a low-key but smart move, the Boston Red Sox dealt Aaron Kurcz to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Anthony Varvaro who was designated for assignment on Monday.anthony varvaro

The reason why this relates to Theo Epstein is simple. Along with Jair Bogaerts, twin of Xander, the Boston Red Sox sent Epstein to Chicago and received Chris Carpenter (not that Chris Carpenter) in addition to Aaron Kurcz who was the Player To Be Named Later.
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In his time in Boston, Carpenter surrendered six earned runs in six innings back in 2012 and proved ineffective for the Paw Sox in 2013, making him of little use to the big league club. Although Kurcz failed to progress past AA thanks to an injury which sidelined him for the entire 2013 season, Kurcz posted a 2.14 ERA in 34 outings while striking out 54 men in 42 innings of work for the Portland Sea Dogs.
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In exchange, the Boston Red Sox received a proven pitcher who has been effective in the big leagues these past two seasons. In that time frame, Anthony Varvaro posted a 2.74 ERA in 123 games totaling 128 frames and struck out 93 men and walked just 38. To put it this way, the Red Sox traded for a proven reliever and gave up someone who could become a proven reliever.

Without a doubt, Varvaro will find his way into the Red Sox bullpen next season— most likely as a middle reliever. Set to earn $515k next season, he will be a cheap and effective player for the Red Sox, but unfortunately he is not a lefty. The Boston Red Sox could still use a left-handed pitcher but for now, fans should be happy that they picked up an effective middle reliever for such a low price.
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