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The Red Sox have just strengthened an already solid bullpen by adding another quality right-hander in Japanese reliever Koji Uehara. Uehara is going to be 38 years old on April 3rd and some may be cautious about adding such an old pitcher. The good news is, the deal is only for one year and that Uehara does not rely heavily on velocity.
Uehara has spent the last year and a half in Texas pitching for the Rangers. Last season in 37 innings he posted a 1.75 ERA with a 0.64 WHIP while striking out 43. The year before that between Texas and Baltimore Uehara pitched 65 innings with a 2.35 ERA and a 0.72 WHIP with 85 K. Those are outstanding numbers regardless of how old you are.
The veteran righty utilizes three pitches; a fastball, forkball and change up. His fastball is only about 89 mph but can be very effective due to Uehara’s excellent control. In the 54 innings he pitched in a Rangers uniform, Uehara only walked 4 hitters. The forkball he throws dives downward drastically and sits at around 82 mph. His change up is probably his best pitch; it sits at about 80 mph, and can make hitters look foolish.
NOTE – The bullpen now will have two pitchers from Japan in Junichi Tazawa and Uehara. Uehara’s veteran leadership, experience and tutelage should help Tazawa make another big step next season.