Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Time to play another round of GUESS THAT PLAYER. Both players are relief pitchers. Ready? Go!

Games IP Saves ERA WHIP K
Player 1 72 71.0 16 1.39 0.958 70
Player 2 73 74.1 21 1.09 0.565 101

Judging by their WHIPs and Ks, Player 2 was superior - but Player 1 certainly wasn't a slacker. His 1.39 ERA isn't a result of dumb luck, there was so talent in his arm. So, who are these relievers? No googling. Give it your best guess.

Ready for the reveal? Good, because you might be shocked: Player 1 is Mark Melancon - yes, that Mark Melancon. The same Melancon who pitched for the Red Sox in early 2012, imploded and was sent to Pawtucket for the majority of that season.

And Player 2? That's Koji Uehara. I'm sure you've heard of him.

I don't mean to impair a negative view on Koji's 2013 campaign by comparing his stat line with Melancon's, but it should be noted that, historically, relievers are tricky beasts. For a recent example, just look at the Baltimore Orioles' bullpen.

In 2012, Baltimore rode the performances of their relievers right into the playoffs (an especially pertinent point since their starting rotation sucked). But in 2013, Orioles closer Jim Johnson blew a ton of saves; and their setup man, Pedro Strop, pitched so badly that his 7.25 ERA was eventually traded to the Cubs. Consequently, the Orioles were a non-factor in the 2013 playoff race.

That's one example of how the performance of relief pitchers can vary drastically from one season to another. How Mark Melancon pitched in 2012 and 2013 is another example.

So, how will Koji pitch in 2013? He probably won't duplicate his spectacular efforts in 2013 (that's not a knock on Koji - I doubt that many pitchers outside of He-Who-Retire-And-Shall-Not-Be-Named from the Bronx could duplicate his 2013 performance), but he stands a good chance of coming close.

However, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a closer in waiting in the bullpen, just in case Koji falters. Let's not forget that Koji was the insurance policy for Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan. No matter what you think about Koji, having an insurance policy against him wouldn't hurt.

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