If you're waiting for updates on Koji Uehara's first start of 2007.....
you're going to have to keep on waiting. It appears as though the Giants have taken a liking to Uehara as a closer in the mold of John Smoltz. The man who is probably their best pitcher has skillfully entered the role of closer and now enters ballgames, close and late, to the sound of tremendous cheers. I don't know if Yomiuri will be able to continue using Uehara in this manner if their starting pitching falters, but to this point they are sitting pretty atop the Central League with the best record in the sport. Their frontline starters, including the young left hander Kaneto, have continued to impress and the team has elected to bolster a shaky pen by adding their best pitcher into a high leverage role. This reminds me a bit of the Phillies recent move to Brett Myers as a Tom Gordon replacement, despite posting a 137 ERA+ over recent times.
Uehara's current pitching line on the year is:
2 HRs allowed
So far his resume is impressive as the Giants closer. I wonder to myself each time he enters a game in relief what his conversion means to his prospects for a big MLB payday next season. As a premier starting pitcher, you have to figure that someone will pay Uehara something in the neighborhood of Igawa money. As a closer, does his value suddenly drop whether he ends up reclaiming a starting role for a Major League club? Has his value taken a hit? Would a Major League player, in what figures to be his last chance at a big payday, accept a move like this? Keep watching for more. I'll try to update Uehara Watch at least once a week from now on, whether it's for a handful of relief appearances or for a start. Any news related to Uehara's 2007 season and beyond will appear here as well. Keep comin' back!