Koji Uehara’s Departure From AL East Could Impact Red Sox, Yankees in October


July 30, 2011

Although he toils in the American League East, Koji Uehara's presence is not necessarily a threat to the big dogs in the division. He plays for Baltimore, a sure-fire last-place team that doesn't face Boston again until the end of September.

While Uehara's trade to Texas now puts him out of the division, it actually signals an increase in trouble for teams like the Red Sox and Yankees.

The Rangers, in acquiring Uehara, have balanced their bullpen. Before the trade, ahead of closer Neftali Felix were 40-somethings Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes. Both are lefties, and while Oliver continues to get outs and Rhodes is still effective against left-handed hitters, they didn't provide much of a lock-down presence.

Mark Lowe does some setup work from time to time. Yoshinori Tateyama does, too. Manager Ron Washington has been forced to mix and match to get to Feliz.

In all, seven different pitchers have recorded holds for Texas. That's a pretty normal number, but just one (Oliver) has an ERA under 3.00. Uehara comes over with a 1.72 mark. His WHIP of 0.70 is tops in the majors among pitchers with any serious degree of action, and he has held right-handed bats to a .171 mark and lefties to .136.

Uehara has been one of the top relievers in all of baseball, and now he joins a pen that struggled in the 2010 postseason (5.19 ERA in 15 games) and hasn't been much better in 2011 (4.42 ERA, 11th in the American League).

It's extremely likely that either Boston or New York will play Texas in the first round of the playoffs. When that time comes, the Rangers will be sporting a significantly improved bullpen, thanks in large part to Saturday's addition of a former AL East standout.

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