Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Uehara Injury Could Cause Some Shuffles In Sox Bullpen

(USAToday Sports)
In the ninth inning of last night's win over the Giants, Koji Uehara grabbed his right side/shoulder area after a strikeout. One pitch later, he was out of the game—with a 'right pectoral strain'. These are just the type of injuries that—while sounding minor—can wreck havoc on an athlete. They are painful and sometimes very slow to heal. Of course, with the track record of the Red Sox medical "team" over the years, this could turn out very bad for Boston. If Koji is lost for any significant amount of time, it will require some serious role-shuffling in the bullpen. With Craig Kimbrel out for at least five more weeks (and most likely even longer), Koji had been a vision of his old self in the closer role (five straight saves before last night). Newly-acquired Brad Ziegler can certainly step in (18 saves for the D'Backs this year), but that vacates a key set-up spot. While Junichi Tazawa could return from his injury as soon as Friday, it's by no means certain that he can just step in and be immediately effective. One "wild card' in all of this is Joe Kelly—who has been other-worldly out of the Pawtucket bullpen. Kelly can still get it up there close to 100 MPH and might just find new value in a relief role. Stay tuned!