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What’s wrong with Koji Uehara?

Aug 26, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT

Koji Uehara AP AP

Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has been human of late, blowing back-to-back saves and allowing a total of seven runs in his previous four appearances, which has people wondering if the 39-year-old right-hander is wearing down.

However, after last night’s blown save Uehara told Rob Bradford of that “it’s nothing about fatigue” and then replied “still, I don’t think that’s the case” when told he’s approaching 150 total innings since the beginning of last season.

Red Sox manager John Farrell took a similar stance, saying the team is “being very conscious of the frequency of the use” but has no plans to shut him down.

Even with his recent struggles Uehara has a 2.25 ERA and spectacular 73/8 K/BB ratio in 60 innings overall this season, which are incredible numbers even if they pale in comparison to his ridiculous 2013 season totals.

  1. nvl004 - Aug 26, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    He used to get very tired in Baltimore. It could be “Too hot,” perhaps.

    • rje49 - Aug 26, 2014 at 6:21 PM

      Comments point out how much he was used last year, but he was unhittable right through the World Series. I’ve been watching him all year; I’m seeing his splitter being too high in the strike zone much too often, and if down low, not breaking downward too often. Those are the results; I can’t say why his pitches aren’t going where he wants them to go.

  2. stex52 - Aug 26, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    He was talking about fatigue a few weeks back. I think it enters into the discussion. At this point in the season with the Sox out of contention, it might be a good investment in themselves for next year to let him pitch less frequently.

    • uyf1950 - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      Except the Uehara is a FA at the end of this season. There is absolutely no guarantee that Uehara will be back with the Red Sox next year.

      • stex52 - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        True. I was thinking he was signed for next year. But the Sox aren’t making the playoffs this year. Wouldn’t my argument still hold? It seems likely they would try to keep him, even at 40.

        As long as we pretend the Joe Nathan case doesn’t exist.

      • dan1111 - Aug 26, 2014 at 2:37 PM

        I am mystified as to why the Sox didn’t trade him at the deadline. Surely they would have gotten a good return.

  3. Ayase Yano (綾瀬市 矢野) - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with him, clearly it’s no fatique or whatsoever . If it’s about injury? He’ll admit if there is something’s bothering him.

    • Ren - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      Both of us probably also knew the fact that Uehara was a starter back in Japan with the Yomiuri converted to a closer later in the MLB. Bein a closer as his role? I doubt he’ll have any problems with that… About injury, though, players also sometimes play through injury even though they already knew it’s botherin em.

      • Ayase Yano (綾瀬市 矢野) - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:28 PM

        – Asian baseball knowledge : check!
        – Lacking g’s at some words: also check!

        Safe to say you are that renaado guy. 😉

  4. rbts2014 - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    I likely wouldn’t be my top notch self either if my team had nothing to play for other than the end of the season.

    If it is fatigue or something is barking, cut down his innings for the rest of the season since there is nothing to play for and hopefully he’ll avoid some careless injury that may cost him some or all of 2015.

  5. beefytrout - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    his glove isn’t big enough.

  6. aceshigh11 - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    What do you mean “what’s wrong with him?”??

    – He’s 39 years old

    – The Sox rode him HARD last year to win the World Series…there was a story written about how exhausted he appeared in the clubhouse during the playoffs, far different than the ninja assassin that we saw on the mound

    – The rest of the league has had a chance to get acclimated to his nasty stuff

    • Ayase Yano (綾瀬市 矢野) - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:39 PM

      If it’s about age you are talking then it’s dead wrong. We value longevity and we take pride of the long years we play even though other people thinks we can’t perform well cause of it.

      • aceshigh11 - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with him, but there ARE reasons for why he’s not performing at the superhuman rate he did last year, and being 39 years is ABSOLUTELY a factor.

        I don’t care about his nationality or race…age catches up to everyone.

      • Ayase Yano (綾瀬市 矢野) - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:35 PM

        We treat age as a number. Still, I understand your views and opinion. It’s a struggle and it’s a barrier that even young ones can or should face.

      • stex52 - Aug 26, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        I would not argue that 39 is necessarily a barrier, but he did discuss being tired a short time ago. He made some comments about needing to pace himself. This is also the very hot time of year in the U.S.

        I think he is a terrific pitcher. But I also think it a reasonable assumption that fatigue is part of the problem here. If his splitter is not going quite where he wants it, he may be struggling a bit with the follow through.

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 26, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        Age is more than a number.

        ALL human beings are affected by age and thinking one is still able to do something doesn’t overcome the physical changes.

        Beginning around 30 yrs old, The amount of muscle tissue (muscle mass) and muscle strength tend to decrease beginning around age 30 and continuing throughout life.

        Again, that CONTINUES from then on, year after year.

        Bones become less dense.

        The cartilage that lines the joints tends to thin, partly because of the wear and tear of years of movement. The surfaces of a joint may not slide over each other as well as they used to, and the joint may be slightly more susceptible to injury.

        Cells in the body age and die off. Organs in our bodies become older as we age.

        A 39 yr old is MUCH different than they were at 29 or 31 yrs old and no amount of thinking about age as a number may change the real, physical things that HAVE changed in that 39 yr old person.

        Thinking about age as a number can’t make ones bones more dense, make one lose less muscle and on and on.

        It’s called life and aging…

        As people age, the following occurs to their eyes:

        The lens stiffens, making focusing on close objects harder.
        The lens becomes denser, making seeing in dim light harder.
        The pupil reacts more slowly to changes in light.
        The lens yellows, changing the way colors are perceived.
        The number of nerve cells decrease, impairing depth perception.
        The eyes produce less fluid, making them feel dry.

        Our brains change, and so does all other major organs and systems in our bodies.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 26, 2014 at 8:49 PM

        I tried to follow, @SportsFan18, but my brain changed midway. :)

    • Jack Marshall - Aug 27, 2014 at 12:18 AM

      And it took them all the way to August? Baloney. It’s a bad patch, that’s all. He’s human. And the Sox kept him because they intend to sign him and will.

      • aceshigh11 - Aug 27, 2014 at 8:35 AM

        My point is that it’s not like there’s some mystery here. There are plenty of reasons why he may have hit a skid.

        Nowhere did I say it was a permanent skid, but no one should expect a repeat of last year either.

        He’s a year older, it’s a long season, and teams have had a chance to study his pitching after being devastated by him last year.

  7. joestemme - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    Relief pitchers can be like placekickers in the NFL – unbelievably accurate for a spell, and then…not. And, remember, Koji wasn’t exactly Manny Rivera for his entire career.

    All that said, it wouldn’t hurt for the Red Sox to lessen his innings. I don’t understand why Farrell brings him in as often as he does in NON-save situations. Why pitch him in a tie game? He’s 39. Use what innings he has left wisely.

    • rollinghighwayblues - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      Ah, the ol’ Manny Ramirez/Mariano Rivera pitcher combo.

      • joestemme - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:24 PM

        Doh! Mariano Rivera. Natch.

    • dan1111 - Aug 26, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      A tie game is more important than a save situation. I’m glad the Red Sox have a manager who recognizes that.

  8. jcmeyer10 - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    I wouldn’t call a regression towards the mean totally his fault.

  9. stackers1 - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    This same questions would come out every time Rivera blew 2 saves in a row. “What’s wrong with Mariano?” and “has age finally caught up with Rivera?” Then he would effortlessly reel off a dozen saves in a row & the dopey questions would be forgotten.

    This guy will be fine.

  10. irishlad19 - Aug 26, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    Nothing “wrong”, except he’s 39 yrs old at the end of a long season.
    We all get tired sooner as we get older.
    Too bad the Sox didn’t trade him for some younger talent before August.

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