Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/16/14
The Red Sox have found their seventh inning man. The club signed 38-year-old right-hander Koji Uehara to a one-year deal with a $4.25 million base salary Thursday. Boston’s bullpen struggled last season from Andrew Bailey‘s injury to the early implosion of Mark Melancon to the eventual meltdown of Alfredo Aceves. The club finished in the league’s bottom half in both ERA (3.88) and FIP (3.91). Uehara is one of the best control pitchers in the big leagues and he can generate swings and misses. Should Andrew Bailey struggle to get on the field again, the Red Sox have a player they can trust in the later innings in Uehara. Uehara lives on his control. He doesn’t have blow-em-away stuff, but all of his pitches have incredible movement. His fastball rarely breaks 90 but has heavy late arm-side run. His cutter gives him a change-of-pace option against lefties, and the splitter is the out pitch. All are routinely thrown for strikes — even the splitfinger is only a ball 36 percent of the time, roughly the average for the major league fastball. Uehara works almost exclusively in pitchers’ counts as a result — he didn’t pass through a single 3-0 count in 2012 and he threw just 25 pitches with three balls out of 513 total pitches. When Uehara gets in these deep counts, he unleashes the splitfinger. It’s a devastating pitch when spotted well — buried in the lower half of the strike zone or below it can rack up the swings-and-misses, and that’s exactly what Uehara does with it: Click to embiggen The splitter is an incredible effective pitch, drawing constant swings (59 percent) and whiffs (39 percent of swings, 23 percent of total pitches). It’s the driver behind Uehara’s sharp 9.82 career strikeout rate (10.75 in 2012). His control with it allows him to finish pitcher’s counts instead issuing walks as he tries to nibble around the zone or being forced back into the fastball in a full count. As good as the movement makes his fastball, its lack of velocity is an apparent weakness at times. When hitters make contact with it, they’re able to make it hurt — of 357 at-bats ending on a Uehara fastball, 24 (6.7 percent) are home runs. Hitters have a .527 slugging percentage on contact against it. Uehara’s good at avoiding in-play contact with it — 14.1 percent against a league average of 19.3 — but MLB hitters are too good to let even the sneakiest fastball by too often. But Uehara’s lack of velocity merely lowers his ceiling from baseball’s best reliever to perhaps its best setup man, capable of posting ERAs and FIPs under 3.00 year-in and year-out. He’s going to rack up the strikeouts and limit walks with his deadly fastball-splitter combination, limiting the damage on the inevitable home runs. The Red Sox should be happy with their investment — Uehara offers stability and quality in the bullpen, two aspects last year’s club sorely lacked.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LSU S blasts Tigers fans for leaving game early

Nobody’s safe in the NFL and nothing is sacred

UMass to retire jersey in honor of John Calipari

Houston Texans are moving on from Andre Johnson

Top landing spots for Darrelle Revis

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mets: Murphy will no longer discuss his religious beliefs

Randall Cobb rejects contract proposal from Packers

Peyton Manning to take $4 million pay cut with Broncos

Kevin Durant has ‘no doubt’ he’ll return this season

Sidney Rice, Steve Weatherford to donate brains for research

Bills acquire Matt Cassel from Vikings

Report: Peyton Manning's contract incentives tied to Super Bowl

Bean responds to Murphy's homosexuality comments

Haynesworth to Suh: Skins ‘took my love away from the game’

Five teams that should consider signing JaVale McGee

MLB local streaming is unlikely for Opening Day

Ronaldo sends his hair stylist to check on his wax figure monthly

Arizona Diamondbacks unveil 'The Churro Dog'

Ray Allen announces he will not play this season

Are the Suns built for the present as well as the future?

Ndamukong $uh billboards springing up all over Detroit

WATCH: Russian youth hockey teams brawl in handshake line

Prince played high school basketball in Minnesota

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Why haven't brands shown love to James Harden?

Nobody’s safe in the NFL and nothing is sacred

Tim Lincecum’s last best chance

Ten most underrated players in the NBA

Stevens: LeBron looks like the MVP

Spiller: EJ Manuel learned not to be 'buddy buddy' with everyone

Ten most underrated NFL free agents

Five potential landing spots for Andre Johnson

Texas-Baylor fight leads to 7 ejections

Mark Cuban will be Prez in 'Sharknado 3'

Report: Redskins interested in Suh

Report: Revis likely to hit free agency

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.