Credit: Don Miller
In 2013 Red Sox pitcher Koji Uehara was one of the most critical components to the 2013 Red Sox championship team. So far this year Koji has not been the same however since his return from the disabled list things have been different. Since his return Koji has retired thirteen of the sixteen batters hes face; Six of those batters via strikeout. Not only has he been dominate but his performance has given manger John Farrell the confidence of using Koji in the eight inning role. During his injury Farrell was forced to mix and match with the eight inning role as Matt Barnes, Brad Ziegler, and Fernando Abad all strugged in that situation. As a result the Red Sox were losing a lot of games in which they lead late and getting the ball to closer Graig Kimbrel in the ninth was a struggle to say the least. The Bullpen however has looked better of late and that’s no concidience that the improvement comes with Koji’s return.
Koji’s return also allows everyone else to switch back to their normal role. When the phone rings in the bullpen no one is left guessing whos going to pitch. If the Red Sox are going to make a deep postseason run then the recent dominance from the pen will have to continue. Bullpen’s are critical to a teams postseason success as shown by the Kansas City Royals, and San Fransiscio Giants; the last two World Series champions. Having a dominate pen allows a team to shorten the game . Getting the ball to Kimbrel and shortening the game will be critical in the playoffs. If Koji can continue to pitch like he has and the rest of the bullpen follows then one of the Red Sox’s greatest weakness could become their greatest strength. In the postseason runs come at a premium and that is a result of a good bullpen. It could make all the difference between whether or not Ortiz rides of into the sunset hosting a World Series trophy.