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Sports

October 3, 2013

The Red Sox' Rivera

Uehara capable of a Mariano-like postseason

(Continued)

And right now, the Sox have arguably the game’s best closer in Uehara.

The 38-year-old has little postseason experience (2.1 innings) and no postseason success (five earned runs).

That sample size obviously is way too small to make any sort of judgment.

It’s imperative he continues his dominance because he might be the most important variable for the Red Sox, who have had shaky late-inning relief this season.

With his tremendous strike-throwing ability (only nine walks this year) and a swing-and-miss fastball and splitter, the Red Sox should have him go more than an inning when the need arises.

Taking into account Silver and Perry’s study, it’s not surprising the Yankees won five World Series titles with Rivera as closer. Rivera not only put in the overtime but he was fantastic at limiting base runners.

Now it’s Uehara’s turn.

“He’s always had a sense of humor, which helps in this game,” Johnson said. “He’s a good teammate. I think people here see a little bit more of his energy for the game. I think that’s starting to come out a little bit with him.”

Uehara’s numbers are similar to his first four years in the big leagues. He has a career 1.93 ERA, 0.70 WHIP and .165 batting average against in relief while striking out 11.7 batters per nine innings.

This season it’s a 1.09 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, .130 average and 12.2 strikeouts.

Most incredible about Uehara’s dominance is that he does it with a fastball that has averaged just 89.2 mph this year, according to fangraphs.com.

Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson said Uehara’s fastball is difficult to pick up because it comes out of the same slot as the splitter and Uehara uses the same arm speed when throwing both pitches.

Granderson also said Uehara is pretty much the same pitcher now as when he came to the majors in ’09.

“His velocity hasn’t changed on either one of the two pitches,” Granderson said. “It’s just a matter of putting him in more situations when the game is on the line.”

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyonMLB

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