It appears safe to assume that the Boston Red Sox will be shutting down 39-year-old closer Koji Uehara for the rest of the season. It may not be solely due to the conclusion that you immediately jump to, which is of course blown saves.
It’s true that Uehara has blown quite a few saves lately. The most recent came Thursday night as Uehara, pitching with a 4-3 lead, gave up the game tying home run to Mark Texiera and a walk off home run to Chase Headly to give the Yankees the 5-4 win.
Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes, “ten of the 18 runs Uehara has allowed this season have come in his last six games, when he has recorded three losses and three blown saves.” That Uehara has been struggling is no secret, in fact it is hard not to notice.
The Red Sox had given Uehara extra rest, keeping him out of games from Aug. 26 to Monday. Unfortunately the short rest did not seem to be enough.
Red Sox manager John Farrell made a statement to the press Thursday night that strongly implied that the pitcher will be shutdown for the rest of the 2014 season.
“It’ll be a situation where I’ll talk with Koji first, what our plan will be, whether that’s extended rest, whether that’s the potential of shutting him down,’’ said Farrell. “We just walked off the field and out of respect to Koji, respect for what he’s done for us after two outstanding years, we’re not in position to announce that right now.”
So no official statement has yet been made but that doesn’t mean one isn’t imminent. That also doesn’t mean that the Red Sox are done with Uehara either or that shutting him down would be some kind of punishment for his performance of late.
Just days ago it was reported that Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said that Uehara would be a major piece of the team’s plans for 2015, meaning that the Red Sox are looking to re-sign the aging right-hander. His contract is up at the end of the season. This idea is emphasized by the fact that they did not trade Uehara when there was so much interest in him at the trade deadline.
Shutting Uehara does appear to be the prudent thing to do. The Red Sox are currently 61-79 with 22 meaningless games remaining. Shutting the closer down would be in the Red Sox and Uehara’s best interest.
Why not let him rest his arm and have him be fresh for spring training? That is assuming the Red Sox do re-sign him.
There is always the off chance they may not as Uehara, a free agent, could get a better offer. Still, it is likely he will remain in Boston and it would benefit the team to have him healthy come 2015.
If the Red Sox have decided to shelve Uehara for the remainder of the season, an announcement will likely be made within the next day or two at most.