Boston Red Sox‘ Koji Uehara deserves to be talked about — a lot. What he is doing is really special and he ought to be mentioned in any AL Cy Young discussions, but he probably won’t.
Uehara has just simply been so dominant recently that it has been hard to compare him to anyone. Mariano Rivera has never done this. Eric Gagne never did this. The closest comparison that I can make to Uehara’s dominance are two players. One is Bobby Jenks, who had a streak of retiring 41 batters in a row in 2007. The other, in terms of control and completely shutting down a team at the end of a game, is Dennis Eckersley.
The strikeout to walk ratio is similar, and even the windup reminds one of Eck. Opponents are batting a whopping .128 against him. He hasn’t allowed a baserunner since Lyle Overbay got a double on August 17. No matter what happens for the rest of the season, you would think that Uehara would have thrown one mistake and someone may have gotten a little wood on the ball, and it would have been some sort of cheap hit.
That hasn’t happened. Uehara makes me feel calm whenever he comes into a game, at least this season. He has even made Red Sox Nation forget about Jonathan Papelbon. He has been the best closer in all of MLB.
However, he won’t win the Cy Young, and here is why. Closers seem to really get the short end of the stick when it comes to awards like this. Usually, the voters always tend to think of starters first. Max Scherzer has been so dominant and his record has been impressive to the point that he should win the award, and it probably won’t be close.
Also in the history of baseball, only nine closers have ever won the Cy Young Award, and none since 2003. As well, Uehara didn’t start as the closer, which will probably really hurt his chances because he doesn’t have as many saves as you would think simply because he didn’t have the opportunity.
Hopefully Uehara will win some other hardware, so not winning the Cy Young won’t matter much to him. However, he has been so utterly dominant that it would be great to at least have him in the discussion somewhere.