Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/1/13
t happened four times during the regular season and based on everything Red Sox manager John Farrell has been saying it will be a regular occurrence in the playoffs. Get ready to see closer Koji Uehara for more than three outs in a save situation. “We’re certainly willing to go more than a three-out save” Farrell said. “Hell there might be a six-out save at some point. Going forward yeah we’ve done it before. Hopefully we’re in positions with a lead in the eighth inning where we’ll turn to him again.” The Sox’ dependence on Uehara is twofold. First the right-hander has been as dominant as any closer in baseball history a hyperbole-free statement considering a 0.57 WHIP that is considerably lower than the best totals ever produced by Mariano Rivera (0.67 in 2008 for the New York Yankees) or Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley (0.61 in 1989 for the Oakland Athletics). Uehara hasn’t allowed a home run since June 30 and gave up one earned run on 12 hits two walks and 52 strikeouts in his final 401⁄3 innings. Then there’s only uncertainty in the bullpen beyond Uehara and left-hander Craig Breslow who quietly allowed just two earned runs in 312⁄3 innings since July 9. Right-hander Junichi Tazawa rookie righty Brandon Workman lefty Franklin Morales and even converted righty starter Ryan Dempster are the other options to protect a slim lead in the seventh or eighth innings. Here then is perhaps the biggest question as the Sox enter the postseason: At age 38 and after reaching career highs in both appearances (73) and innings (741⁄3) can Uehara handle the increased workload? “Being a closer I know what kind of situation I’m going into compared to (being) a set-up man when you pitch in a lot of different situations” Uehara said through translator C.J. Matsumoto. “That’s helped me a lot.” It also has helped Uehara said that Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves typically bring him into a game whenever he warms up. Only twice this season has Uehara gotten loose in the bullpen without pitching in a game. Also Uehara is no stranger to pitching multiple innings. A starter for most of his career in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants he made 12 starts for the Baltimore Orioles when he came to the majors in 2009.
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