As big a team effort as this season has been for the Red Sox, not sure they would be in first place without closer Koji Uehara.
Plan A (Joel Hanrahan) and Plan B (Andrew Bailey) washed out to injuries. And a quick trial of Plan C Junichi Tazawa didn’t look promising.
So Boston turned its closer role over to the 38 year old Uehara.
And Uehara has delivered – boy, has he delivered.
Start with: He hasn’t allowed an earned run since June 30. And Uehara’s post All-Star break numbers are historic: 24.1 IP, five hits, zero runs, one walk, 33 K’s, a 0.24 WHIP.
Add in: Uehara has currently retired the last 37 consecutive batters he has faced, the longest run in Red Sox history and longest for any reliever since White Sox pitcher Bobby Jenks retired 41 straight batters in 2007. According to SABR, Jenks’ streak is the longest for a reliever.
Rob Bradford writes Uehara has become the most important player in the American League.
It’s hard to argue with that perspective. And who knows, if the Red Sox have an extended post-season run maybe Uehara gets to change that to the most important player in all of baseball.
Saltalamacchia – Away from Varitek’s Shadow
Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has finally shed Jason Varitek’s shadow says manager John Farrell.
Boston coach Torey Lovullo calls Salty “a guy who’s a true backstop for a championship-caliber ball club.”
And with free agency looming this off-season, Saltalamacchia could not have picked a better year to showcase his talents.
Ken Rosenthal points out Saltalamacchia and Brian McCann of the Braves are the top catching free agents to be – with teams like the Phillies, Rangers and Yankees probably in the hunt for new backstops.
John Tomase notes Salty’s OPS ranks among the top 10 catchers in the MLB, and he’s exactly the kind of player the Red Sox would pursue on the open market if he came free from another team.
All this points to Saltalamacchia being a Boston signing priority in the off-season.
Who’s Got Most Power?
Good article by Brian McPherson, asking Red Sox players which batter has the most raw power with Easton S3z.
Will Middlebrooks, Mike Napoli and David Ortiz were all in the conversation – with Big Papi crowned king.
Who do you think is Boston’s best power hitter?