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Red Sox closer Koji Uehara might be the most important player in the American League

When John Farrell was asked about Koji Uehara, two sentences from the manager offered the highest compliment a closer might receive.

Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has pitched 24 consecutive scoreless innings, one short of the team record. (AP)

“You kind of marvel at what he’s doing at this stretch of time,” Farrell said, adding about the pitcher’s latest round of perfection: “It’s a very calm inning from our perspective.”

But what Uehara has delivered is not only borderline historic — now one inning shy of Daniel Bard’s team mark of 25 consecutive scoreless innings — it is downright soothing.

During these last 24 innings (21 outings) Uehara has allowed just seven baserunners, striking out 30 while walking only one. This while averaging just 11.9 pitches per inning. Think about that: It’s not even four pitches per plate appearance for the 77 batters he has faced.

It all leads to the kind of definitive statements not usually uttered by those whose job it is to be somewhat measured over the course of a 162-game season.

“I would have to say,” said Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves, “he’s the best closer in the big leagues, by far.”

Added Nieves: “It’s just his way of being efficient of with all of his pitches and making all his pitches look good. It almost looks like a strike out of the hand, and hitters obviously confuse that.”

Ask Uehara about the run and he’ll revert back to mentions of taking one day at a time, or the occasional sidestep (citing a round of golf at the All-Star break that set the success in motion).

We get it — he’s been really good and he doesn’t want to jinx it.

But while the numbers (and the manner in which he is piling them up) offer amazement, the real accomplishment is Uehara’s ability to earn the most prestigious of classifications.

The 38-year-old has become the most important player in the American League.

It’s a bold statement considering Uehara was considered about the 20th most important player on his own team coming out of…

continue reading at red sox – Red Sox closer Koji Uehara might be the most important player in the American League – WEEI | Rob Bradford.



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