After 8 innings in yesterday’s Boston Red Sox game against the San Francisco Giants the Red Sox were cruising 4-0. Rick Porcello looked strong and John Farrell went to Koji Uehara to finish the team shutout. Just 7 pitches into his appearance, Uehara grabbed his chest and was taken out of the game. We later found out Uehara strained his pectoral and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday. Uehara becomes the 4th bullpen arm to go down to injury this year.
As of Wednesday morning, we don’t know what the future will be for Koji, but with Craig Kimbrel recovering from knee surgery, Carson Smith gone for the season with Tommy John surgery, and Junichi Tazawa working through a shoulder impingement, the acquisition of Brad Ziegler is even more important than ever. After being on the team for a week he is the defacto closer and will likely play a major role going forward.
If Uehara has to miss time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joe Kelly make another major league appearance, although this time out of the bullpen. He has been working as a reliever in the minors for potentially this situation, however I’m not sure if the Red Sox have any confidence in him making a major league impact.
Whether Koji is on the shelf for a while or not, the Red Sox need to fight through this period of injury and hopefully get Tazawa back soon and Kimbrel back in August. Once everyone is healthy, the Red Sox could have a strong back end of the bullpen come September.