With the push on for postseason baseball, the Red Sox have shown great balance all year long.
There has been an even spread of hitting without any one single player carrying the team.
The starting pitching has been strong across the board and they have picked it up when injuries have raised stumbling blocks that would have derailed most teams.
The bullpen has been pretty darn good at compensating for the various setbacks, putting it mildly, with injuries causing relievers to drop like flies from the rooster.
The closer situation was no different, with injuries and adversity decimating the Red Sox closer position. Again, out of nowhere they find another diamond in the bullpen. Koji Uehara at 38 years of age is not what you would expect in a closer.
He is not a power pitcher with a fastball averaging around 91-92 mph.
He is not a large imposing physical specimen that glares down at you from the mound. Instead you are looking at an expressionless, 6'1" or 6'2" (depending on the site stats you find), 195 lbs, who is most known for his enthusiastic high fives instead of a devastating fastball.
The funny thing is, as a hitter facing him in the ninth inning you are back in the dugout riding the bench before you know what happened. You are scratching your head and trying to figure out why that at bat was over so quickly. You reach over and grab the scouting reports and take a closer look at this guy.
Koji Uehara has been nothing if not a closing machine, notching 14 out of 16 save attempts. He has an 0.64 WHIP and is striking out 12.2 batters per nine innings.
Yeah, you noticed that just a minute ago at the plate as you raised that stat to 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Opponents are hitting .142 with a .442 OPS against him. Of his 850 pitches this season, 73 percent have been strikes. Thirty three of his 59 appearances have been perfect. His ERA+ is a comical 348.
You are wondering now if you had much of a chance at all against this guy when you went up there to start off the ninth inning. He kinda reminds you of a Mariano Rivera, but then flying more under the radar.
Checking out his statistics since June 10 when he started closing games for the Red Sox you find: 34.2 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 46 K. He is riding a streak of 21.2 consecutive innings without giving up a run.
Uehara has been so good lately that it's a surprise when somebody gets on base or even hits the ball hard against him.
You now watch your teams last chance wiff on a fastball from Uehara, game over.
You toss the scouting reports on the floor.
You hate watching him enthusiastically hammer out the high fives with his teammates as you head for the showers.
You decide that next time you are facing him you will try to bunt.
Eric is a contributing writer since 2013 and a true Overseas Fan of the Boston Red Sox living in the Netherlands. He's spent years on baseball fields around the world pitching. His weekends are now spent helping the next generations of pitchers to find their passion and love for the sport. More articles by Eric: https://www.redsoxlife.com/search/label/ericschabell