Birds House: After the World Series, a sincere congratulations

Written by on November 6, 2013 in Orioles, Sports - No comments

Former Baltimore Oriole Koji Uehara - Photo by Keith Allison via Wikipedia Commons

Don’t worry; I’m not going to say it. I’m not going to congratulate “that” team for winning the World Series.

I will, however, congratulate one of their players, former Baltimore Oriole Koji Uehara.

Uehara came to the Orioles in 2009, and he pitched well in his two-and-a-half seasons. During his first season with the O’s,

Uehara was used mostly as a starter, starting in 12 games and posting a 2-4 record with a 4.05 earned run average. The following season Koji was moved to the bullpen, where he showed he was one of the best relievers in all of baseball.

In 2010, Uehara saved 13 of 15 games while posting a 2.86 ERA and striking out 55 batters in 44 innings, walking only five batters.

That is not a typo—he walked only five batters.

Seriously. Five.

The following season Uehara started off strong for the O’s, but he was traded to the Texas Rangers for Tommy Hunter and some guy named Chris Davis. For that season, Uehara posted an ERA of 2.35 in 65 innings pitched, struck out 85 batters, and walked only nine.

The upside for Koji was that he was playing for a contender at that time. Unfortunately, he would not pitch well at all for the Rangers during the 2011 playoffs. In only one-and-one-third postseason innings, Uehara allowed five earned runs and three home runs. He pitched so poorly he was actually left off the World Series roster.

Last year was a better year for Koji. He pitched in only 36 innings, struck out 43 batters, and walked only three, maintaining an ERA of 1.75. In the playoffs, he only threw one inning, as Texas was eventually ousted by his former team—the O’s—in the Wild-Card play-in game. It was a rock-solid inning; he struck out all three batters he faced.

This season was Uehara’s real breakout season. The Boston Red Sox picked him up in the offseason, and Uehara figured to be a middle reliever in a bullpen filled with closers such as Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan. Injuries and ineffectiveness by those two forced Boston to give Uehara a shot as closer, a move that would eventually get them a World Series title.

On the season, Uehara saved 21 games in 24 chances, and posted a ridiculous ERA of 1.09. Uehara struck out 101 batters in 74 1/3 innings pitched, and walked only nine batters all season.

Nine. That’s it. Just nine.

Uehara was even better in the playoffs, saving seven games for Boston without blowing a single opportunity. Koji’s ERA was 0.66 as he struck out 16 batters in 13 2/3 innings and didn’t walk anyone. This time Koji was left ON the World Series roster. He more than earned his keep, not allowing a single run while saving two games in 4 2/3 innings of work.

So, while I am not going to congratulate a particular team, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to one of the good guys in the game, Koji Uehara.

by Andy Mindzak
birds@baltimoreguide.com

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