How do you describe the phenomenon that is Koji Uehara? He is such an exciting player to watch on and off the field. What do I mean by off the field? When he enters the dugout after a great performance he gives the biggest, hardest hi-fives I have ever seen. English not being his native tongue, he found another way to convey his enthusiasm to his teammates without words.
Uehara has been the 8th inning reliever. He is the one in John Farrell’s “one-two punch” relief pitching system. Uehara provides a transition from the starting pitcher to the next reliever. This gives time for Andrew Miller, or other bullpen members, time to loosen up before they head out to the mound.
Uehara has made a difference by being reliable in clutch situations leading a transition in defense through the middle of games. It may appear that he is not pitching that often, but his performance has had an important impact on the wins that the Red Sox have earned. He gets through the inning that he pitches quickly, maintaining momentum for Red Sox hitters on deck in the next inning. In this way, he is able to help the offense. Statistically he is pretty solid allowing only two hits in eight games from April 1st to April 18th. In an earlier post, by another writer on the Yawkey Way Report staff, it was reported that Uehara had a strong Spring Training. It was only during the April 21st game he got pretty banged up, allowing two hits and one home run.
I hope his last start was an anomaly. I don’t think enough is said about this guy both in Boston and throughout the league. I know he will continue to make a positive contribution. Then give the biggest high-fives ever as he comes off the field.