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

DeMar DeRozan: It will be ‘pretty tough’ for me to leave Raptors

Super Bowl referee says Cotchery play could have been a catch

The NBA is one step closer to putting ads on jerseys

Archie Manning defends Cam Newton over press conference

Dwight Howard: ‘I have not asked the Rockets to trade me’

Nazem Kadri fined $5,000 for throat-slashing gesture

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Hassan Whiteside suspended one game for elbowing Boban Marjanovic

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has torn labrum

Report: Antonio Tarver suspended six months, fined $50,000 for positive test

Texans owner wants team to draft a top quarterback

Subban undergoes larynx surgery, out at least eight weeks

Report: Raiders staying in Oakland for 2016 season

Chris Harris: Von Miller should get paid more than JJ Watt

4 likeliest Dwight Howard trade scenarios

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Penn State the latest to offer generic football jerseys for sale

Gary Bettman praises the NHL’s new website and app (which are currently awful)

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

NBA to weigh adding advertisements to jerseys

ESPN, Stephen A. Smith and Little League International sued by parents of Jackie Robinson West

Kobe Bryant shoots down notion he wants All-Star MVP record

Justin Tuck will sign one-day contract to retire with Giants

Ronda Rousey returns to training

Von Miller likely to get franchise tag from Broncos

Barry J. Sanders transferring to Oklahoma State

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

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

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