Koji Uehara has been terrific in a setup role this season. So what is he going to change now that he’s been tabbed as the Red Sox’ closer for the time being?
“I’m not going to change anything,” Uehara told reporters in Detroit. “I’m going to do my best and just go about my business.”
Uehara has gone about his business all year, compiling a 2.10 ERA while striking out 42 hitters in 30 innings. The high strikeout rate accompanies a low walk total — he has only issued seven walks — and his WHIP is a sparkling 0.87.
“We’re very confident when he walks to the mound,” manager John Farrell said before Friday’s game. “He’s been very good for us. He’s had success in closing opportunities previous. There’s an element of not only dependability but success in the past that we’re turning to.”
While Uehara has been used mostly in a setup role throughout his career, he did save 13 games for the Orioles in 2010. That experience and his ability to pound the strike zone made him a strong candidate to become Boston’s new closer in the wake of Andrew Bailey’s struggles. The big question was whether or not Uehara would be able to pitch on back-to-back days, but according to the 38-year-old, an increased workload won’t be an issue.
“It’s just something I stayed away from during spring training,” said Uehara. “But I’m completely fine with that.”
The Red Sox may have a different long-term plan in mind. But for now, Uehara is the guy.