Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 12/6/12
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

Report: Eagles interested in bringing back Nick Foles

Report: Manning hinted to teammates he plans to retire

Barry Sanders shares thoughts on Megatron retirement talk

Report: Marshawn Lynch told friends he is retiring

WATCH: K-State players storm student section after big win

Tony Dungy coaches his way into Canton

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Top eight takeaways from NFL Honors awards

Report: Austin Rivers out 4-6 weeks with broken hand

Brett Favre Hall of Fame discussion took less than 10 seconds

WATCH: Pop wishes Kobe well in heartfelt message

Eric Berry named NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Cam Newton to be named NFL MVP

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

Marcin Gortat fires back at critic on Twitter

WATCH: Kerr told Warriors he was happy to have close game

Broncos could have tough decision with franchise tag

WATCH: Steph Curry does 'Dab' on court on eve of Super Bowl

Another star confirmed for Super Bowl 50 halftime show

WATCH: Wayne Simmonds loses his cool, earns match penalty

Winners and losers from 2016 Hall of Fame vote

Brett Favre, Tony Dungy headline Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Terrell Owens says he was not elected to Hall of Fame

Bruins prospect hit in throat with puck, taken to hospital

WATCH: Mavs rookie laughed at for trash talking Spurs bench

Norris Cole has No. 30 retired with LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans in attendance

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

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker