By Jeff Louderback
The Red Sox bolstered their bullpen in late-inning situations today by signing right-hander Koji Uehara to a one-year deal.
Uehara, who will be 38 in April, has a 2.89 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in four Major League seasons after an impressive career in Japan. In 2012, he logged a 1.75 ERA and a 0.64 WHIP in 37 games and 36 innings for the Texas Rangers, allowing 20 hits, striking out 43 and walking just three batters.
Uehara consistently throws strikes and keeps hitters off balance with a mix of pitches, including a fast ball that does not touch 90. Among pitchers who have at least 200 innings, his 7.97 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best in Major League Baseball history.
Unless additional transactions are made, the Red Sox bullpen will feature Andrew Bailey as the closer and Junichi Tazawa, Uehara, Franklin Morales and Alfredo Aceves as set-up men. Left-handers Craig Breslow and Andrew Miller and right-handers Mark Melancon, Daniel Bard and Clayton Mortensen are also in the mix. Top prospect Alex Wilson appears to be Major League ready, and the Red Sox have additional depth at Triple-A Pawtucket.