Let’s make one thing very clear. I am not saying that Koji Uehara of the Boston Red Sox is on the same level as the great Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees. No one is. Rivera is the greatest closer of all time and that won’t change anytime soon.
What I am suggesting is that ever since Uehara has become Boston’s closer, he is about as sure of a thing at the end of the game as any closer the Red Sox have had in recent memory. Maybe Jonathan Papelbon in his prime, but that would be about it. It is a good feeling to have a solid closer at the end of the game.
Uehara is still pitching like he did in 2013. He has yet to give up a run this season. Whenever you faced the Yankees, you knew that if you wanted runs, you better get them sooner rather than later because once Rivera came in, that would be about it. Game over.
It is the same way right now with Uehara. Teams know that they need to get that run because it will be very difficult to get to Uehara if he continues to pitch the way he has been. Sooner or later, Uehara will probably hit a bump in the road, but for now, Boston should ride that hot hand as long as they can.
It is a very strange and somewhat sad feeling to face the Yankees and know that Rivera won’t be there. The Yankees are struggling to find their closer. David Robertson, who was their regular closer, is on the disabled list and there isn’t really a solid replacement. It feels like Bizzaro World knowing that Boston has the lockdown closer while New York is still looking to find one.
If Uehara pitches even half as well as he did last year, that will be good enough.