Texas bulked up its bullpen at the trade deadline, acquiring Mike Adams, Koji Uehara, and Mike Gonzalez to go alongside Neftali Feliz, Alexi Ogando, and Darren Oliver in what’s now arguably the best, deepest group of relievers in baseball.
However, after dominating with the Orioles for the past one-and-a-half seasons Uehara has been a mess with the Rangers, losing Ron Washington’s confidence and then struggling when asked to get outs in low-leverage situations.
Uehara was fantastic in Baltimore, throwing 91 innings with a 2.27 ERA and ridiculous 117/13 K/BB ratio after moving from the rotation to the bullpen in 2010, but he served up five homers in 18 regular season innings following a July 30 trade to Texas and has allowed a homer in each of his three postseason outings.
“Obviously, Washington gave me three chances to prove myself, but I haven’t been able to produce,” Uehara told Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas. “I feel badly. I’m struggling right now.”
Part of why I liked the Rangers’ move to pick up Uehara from the Orioles is that he’s signed through next season at a reasonable $4 million salary. That doesn’t sound like such a great thing given his sudden inability to keep the ball in the ballpark and my guess is Uehara won’t get many more chances to turn things around in the playoffs, but he was one of the most effective relievers in baseball for nearly two seasons and he’ll come in handy again next year, particularly if Feliz moves into the rotation.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.