It has not been an ideal 2014 campaign for Koji Uehara. Just one year removed from setting the record for most saves in a single postseason, the closer is having a disastrous end of the year for the Boston Red Sox.
Due to his struggles, the team will consider shutting down the closer for the rest of the season, according to a report by Alex Speier of Boston radio affiliate WEEI.
Koji Uehara was signed by the Red Sox in December of 2012, and was expected to be the team’s set-up man for the 2013 season. However, with injuries to Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan, the team decided to put Koji into the closer role. What transpired was one of the most dominant seasons for a closer in MLB history.
During the 2013 season Koji maintained a WHIP of .057, which was the lowest mark for a reliever that pitched 50 or more innings. The season also saw him go through a period where he retired 37 consecutive hitters. For the season he struck out 38.1 percent of the batters he faced, and was also a key piece in the Red Sox’s World Series run.
Uehara was having a good start to the 2014 season recording 18 saves and a 1.80 ERA through July, and as a result was named to the All-Star game. However, he has recently gone through a very rough stretch that has seen give up a run in five of his last six games. The stretch included an August 22nd game against the Mariners where he gave up five earned runs.
After Koji’s most recent loss manager John Farrell wasn’t ready to make a change, but had the following to say on Uehara,
“[How the team uses Uehara going forward will] be a situation where I’ll talk with Koji first, what our plan will be, whether that’s extended rest, whether that’s the potential of shutting him down, that, we just walked off the field and out of respect to Koji, respect for what he’s done for us after two outstanding years, we’re not in position to announce that right now.”
The 39-year-old Uehara is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, and it is unclear if Boston intends to sign him to a new contract.
If Uehara is removed from the closer role, it is likely that Edward Mujica or Junihci Tazawa will take over in his absence