WWhen you look at the strong desire by so many teams for set-up men coming out the bullpen, you have to think that the Rangers made a really good deal acquiring Koji Uehara from the Baltimore Orioles.
Uehara is a 36-year old righty who is having a superior season out of the pen. In 43 appearances he has thrown 47 innings with an ERA of 1.72 and a microscopic WHIP of 0.702. He has recorded 13 holds, but he has allowed six homers. His control is outstanding, he has walked only eight while striking out 62 batters (11.9 per 9 innings), a 7.75 strikeout to walk ratio.
Let's take a look...
Overall batters are hitting just .152 against Koji. Righties are only hitting .171, but what makes Uehara particularly valuable is that lefties are hitting only .136.
Uehara against lefties
Uehara has faced 96 lefties, allowed a mere 12 hits including two doubles and three homers. He has walked eight and whiffed an amazing 34. For the most part, batters have not been able to go to the opposite field against Uehara, in spite of the predominance of outside zone pitches. Of the 12 hits allowed only two have been to left: a double by Matt Stairs and an infield single by Roger Bernadina, both of the Nationals. Just 18 outs have been record to the left of second base and centerfield.
Uehara with runners on base
While Uehara has allowed 4-of-10 inherited runners to score, the data is somewhat misleading. All four runs scored as a result of a pair of two-run homers from Kevin Youkilis (4/27) and Johnny Damon (5/6). With runners on base, batters are 6-for-52 with 3 walks and 20 strikeouts. He has not given up an extra-base hit with a runner on base since Damon in early May, covering 32 appearances. Overall, batters are hitting .115, righties hitting .227, lefties .033. Lefties are 1-for-30 with runners on base against him and that's the Damon homer.
As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News points out:
"The Rangers will, in all likelihood, control Uehara, 36, for 2012. He has a vesting option in his contract that kicks in at 55 appearances. He is currently at 43. The vesting option is for $4 million. The Rangers will also receive "significant" cash from Baltimore."
If Uehara can come close to the same success with Texas as he has with the Orioles, the deal sending to Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter to Baltimore, may prove to be both a bridge to the closer and a bridge back to the World Series.