Closer Koji Uehara has been Mr. Dependable for the Red Sox all year long and he’s finally been rewarded for it. Not only does he get to pitch in the World Series, he will go home tonight with some hardware, earning MVP of the ALCS for a sterling effort, notching three saves in as many opportunities and earning a win while striking out nine and walking none in six innings of work.
During the ALDS, Uehara earned two saves and lost one game, allowing one run in three innings of work while striking our four and walking one.
During the regular season, Uehara finished with a 1.09 ERA and some incredible strikeout and walk numbers. His 11.22 strikeout-to-walk ratio was far ahead of second-place Edward Mujica’s 9.2. His 38.1% strikeout rate ranked third among all relievers, trailing only Aroldis Chapman and Greg Holland. His 3.4% walk rate was also third-best among all relievers, trailing Mujica and Mark Melancon.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.