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MLB Boston Red Sox

Koji Uehara And Top 5 Boston Red Sox Closers Of The Modern Era

5 Best Boston Red Sox Closers of Modern Era in Closing Role

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports Koji 1

It's been one calendar year since the John Farrell made Koji Uehara the closer of the Boston Red Sox. He's since put together one of the best calendar years of any closer in baseball history, leading the Red Sox to a third World Series in ten years in the process. Here is Uehara's place among the top Red Sox closers since Tony LaRussa revolutionized the role back in 1988.

5. Ugueth Urbina

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5. Ugueth Urbina

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Dan Duquette acquired Urbina in 2001 to replace struggling closer Derek Lowe, and it worked directly to plan. After finishing the 2001 season strong (nine saves, 2.25 ERA, 0.95 WHIP), Urbina turned in an All-Star campaign in 2002, saving 40 games with 71 strikeouts to 20 walks in 60 innings with a 1.067 WHIP. Meanwhile, Lowe was moved to the starting rotation and went 21-8 with a 2.58 ERA, finishing third in the AL Cy Young race.

4. Lee Smith

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4. Lee Smith

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Lee Smith -- pictured here pitching for the Chicago Cubs -- was the saves king until Trevor Hoffman dethroned him in 2006, with 478 career saves. Fifty-eight of those saves came in a Red Sox uniform between 1988-90. He was the closer during the 1988 Morgan Magic run, converting 18 of 21 save opportunities, with 1.96 ERA with a 1.016 WHIP, striking out 52 over 41 1/3 innings. Opposing batters hit .185 off him.

3. Keith Foulke

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3. Keith Foulke

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The Red Sox don't win the 2004 World Series without Foulke in the back of the bullpen. Signed to a three-year deal after the Red Sox blew a late-innings lead in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Foulke gave Boston the ninth-inning presence it lacked during the '03 run. After saving 32 games and allowing just 78 baserunners over 83 innings, Foulke was even better in the '04 postseason, allowing just one earned run over 14 innings of work.

2. Koji Uehara

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

2. Koji Uehara

koji uehara red sox
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Koji Uehara has put together one of the best runs of any relief pitcher in the history of baseball over the last year. The numbers in his last 89 appearances: 93 2/3 innings, eight earned runs on 43 hits and seven walks to 120 strikeouts. An ERA of 0.77 and a WHIP of 0.534. He's converted 43 of 46 save opportunities. He didn't walk a single batter while striking out 16, allowing one run over 13 2/3 innings in the 2013 postseason.

1. Jonathan Papelbon

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1. Jonathan Papelbon

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Jonathan Papelbon stands alone as the greatest closer in the history of the Red Sox. The ninth-inning man in Boston from 2006-11, he was among the best in baseball during his tenure. He saved a team-record 219 saves in six seasons as the closer, with a 2.33 ERA and 1.018 WHIP. He threw 10 2/3 shutout innings during the 2007 postseason, playing a major role in the Red Sox second World Series in four years.