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NPB: Koji Uehara back with Giants

by on Jul.04, 2008 @ 9:51 am, under NPB

Koji Uehara was recently recalled to the Giants and was promptly inserted into a game as a reliever against the Hiroshima Carp. He threw 11 pitches and retired the side in order. His next appearance wasn't quite as good as he went 2 innings while giving up 3 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits, a walk, and 2 strikeouts. Uehara faced 12 batters and threw 39 pitches.

Incidentally, those 2 unearned runs came around to score on a passed ball after loading the bases.

Uehara is now 1-4 with a 6.40 ERA. In 32.1 innings he's faced 150 batters and has given up 46 hits (5 for homeruns) and 9 walks -- that comes out to a 1.70 WHIP.

Not good.

For a little perspective, Uehara has a career 3.03 ERA to go along with a 1.01 WHIP. He's always given up a lot of homeruns over his career (1.07 HR/9), so his 5 over 32.1 innings (1.39 HR/9) so far this year isn't that far off. However, his walks and hits over 9 innings this season is a little troubling.

BB/9
2008: 2.51
Career: 1.20

H/9
2008: 12.82
Career: 7.90

The only real saving grace here is that 2008 is still a fairly small sample. But with such a large swing in numbers, you have to wonder whether or not he's hiding an injury, or if at 33, his body is slowly beginning to show the effects of all those innings he threw earlier in his career.

In 10 season (including this year):
195+ innings twice (197.2, 204, 207.1)
10+ complete games twice (12, 11)

And he posted those numbers in 27 or fewer starts (starters in Japan average anywhere from 25-30 games a season and over 10 seasons he maxed out at 27 starts, twice).

It'll be interesting to see how the Giants handle Uehara this season. He was pretty much a starter for most of his career up until last season when they started using him in relief (primarily as a closer). The Giants then re-converted him to a starter at the beginning of this season, but with mixed results that ultimately landed him in ni-gun (minors).

IMHO, I think he's better suited as a reliever at this point in his career. Here are some numbers from his 2007 campaign:

0.59 HR/9
6.82 H/9
0.58 BB/9
9.58 K/9
0.82 WHIP
1.74 ERA

If he decides to test the FA market in the States this winter, he might do well to market himself as a reliever instead of a starter.

0 comments on “NPB: Koji Uehara back with Giants

  1. knucklehead7

    I just took a look at the standings, and the Tigers have built a really substantial lead in the Central.

  2. Gwynar

    The Tigers have been playing quite well. It helps when you’ve got three position players with OBPs over .400 in the lineup (Kanemoto .419; Akahoshi .409; Arai .404), a closer that’s been near perfect (Fujikawa 3-0, 26 save in 20 chances, 0.76 ERA), and a starter that appears to have forgotten he’s 40 (Shimoyanagi, 9-1, 2.31 ERA).

    A lot of things are going well for the Tigers this year. And both Shimoyanagi and Kanemoto have been big surprises — I don’t know that anyone expected them to be doing so well at 40.

  3. knucklehead7

    If the Nationals were willing to give Katsuhiko Maekawa a shot after not having pitched at all in ’07, you’d have to think someone would still be willing to give Uehara a shot in the offseason despite his struggles.

  4. Gwynar

    He signed a minor league deal with the Nationals, right?

    I’m sure there will be teams that are interested in Uehara. And he might come fairly cheap. I’m not sure if he’d go for a minor league contract, but I suppose that wouldn’t be out of the question, especially with the type of season he’s having.

    I still believe he’ll do better if he markets himself as a reliever though.

  5. knucklehead7

    Yeah, Maekawa agreed to a minor league deal, but he ended up having his visa denied. It would have been interesting to see what he could have done after missing last season. Even though it’s the Nats, he probably was still a long shot to make the team, but if he had shown anything at all in the spring, they might have given him a chance in Columbus.

  6. Gwynar

    Didn’t realize he had his visa denied. What’s his status now? Is he just floating around in limbo over in the States?

    I also did a little reading up on him and it seems like he’s had some problems in the past, including a hit-and-run incident. From what I can gather, he was never really a dominant pitcher, but also wasn’t given much of a shot after his hit-and-run incident (I think he was barred).