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2014 Pitcher Profiles: U – Z

Posted By FanGraphs On February 10, 2014 @ 4:30 am In 2014 Second Opinion | No Comments

Koji Uehara [1]

Debut: 2009 |  BirthDate: 4/3/1975 | Team: Red Sox | Position: RP
Yr W L SV IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP FIP R9W WAR
’12 0 0 1 36 10.8 0.8 1.0 1.75 0.64 2.40 1.2 0.8
’13 4 1 21 74 12.2 1.1 0.6 1.09 0.57 1.61 3.8 3.3
’14 5 2 30 65 10.6 2.0 0.9 2.18 1.01 2.76 1.7 1.4

Profile: In what may have been one of the steals of last offseason, the Red Sox quietly signed setup man Koji Uehara to a $4.25 million contract. Pushed into the closer role through the injury ineffectiveness of Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, and Junichi Tazawa, Uehara lit the relief world on fire, posting an insane 1.09 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, and 101 whiffs in just over 74 innings. While some guys post those numbers thanks to some “lucky” peripherals, Uehara wasn’t one of them. His 3% walk rate continued to be among the league’s best and he even bumped his strikeout rate a bit (38% versus a 34% average in 2011-2012). His 1.36 SIERA bested all qualified major league relievers. Not too shabby. Some may pause at his below-average 88-90 mph fastball, but he posted 16-18% swinging strike rates in relief and a huge part of that was 25+% swSTR% on his splitter. He may not light up the gun, but apparently his opponents agree he’s tough to beat. Uehara’s age might be the only reason he sits a half tier behind Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, but if you are one of those people that like to lock up relievers earlier, Uehara is as good of a choice as any to be elite again this season. (Colin Zarzycki [2])

Quick Opinion: Uehara is another year older but showed no signs of slowing down in 2014. Even at 39, it’s not unreasonable to put him among the top six closers.

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[1] Koji Uehara: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=9227&position=P

[2] Colin Zarzycki: http://www.twitter.com/soxczar

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