Koji Uehara had a rough time of it when he blew his first save of the season last night against the Baltimore Orioles. He didn't get much help from his defense (Allen Craig failed to make a diving catch in right field that allowed Adam Jones to reach 3rd), but the velocity on his splitter only clocked in at 76 last night, which is down from 81 last year and 82 in 2013 per the Boston Herald.
In the words of Koji himself on last night:
“Splitter that doesn’t move,” Uehara said. “It stayed over the middle of the plate.”
“I’m not looking at velocity at this point or any point in my career so it’s no problem,” Uehara said.
That's all well and good for him, but if he doesn't have the movement on his splitter that he had in years past, then it's basically useless at 76 MPH. If that keeps up, then he'll continue the path he was on towards the end of last year when he blew a number of saves down the stretch.
So, is closing time still Koji time? That question is still up in the air as of right now, but if the end of 2014 Koji starts to come back, then it won't be anymore. Plus, it's not like Koji is in his prime - he's 40, and not everyone can be Mariano Rivera. Don't get me wrong - I love Koji and I want him to do well, but Koji is walking a fine line right now. The good news for him is the Sox don't have another closer at the moment so he has time to work through his issues - and I really hope he does. Personally, I want him to get back to the 2013 guy.