ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Pitcher Koji Uehara #19 of the Texas Rangers receives high fives in the dugout after striking out Torii Hunter (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 26, 2011 in Anaheim, California. The Rangers defeated the Angels 4-3. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
There wasn't a better reliever down the stretch for the Texas Rangers last season than Koji Uehara, who resembled the Uehara the Rangers acquired at the 2011 trade deadline when they sent Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis to the Baltimore Orioles.
Uehara failed down the stretch in 2011 and was left off postseason rosters as the Rangers lost their second straight World Series, but 2012 told a much different story for Uehara, the 37-year-old Japanese reliever.
Now a free agent, the Rangers are hoping to have Uehara back in 2013 but it's looking less likely by the day as more and more teams seem to be throwing their names in the Uehara sweepstakes after he finished 2012 with a 1.75 ERA, 43 strikeouts and just three walks for an unreal 14.33 strikeout to walk ratio, the third-best number for a reliever with at least 35 innings pitched in the history of baseball.
The Philadelphia Phillies are the latest team to jump into the running for Uehara, joining the Rangers, Milwaukee and Baltimore, his former team and the place he still lives during the offseason. That should put a little fear into Rangers fans as the Orioles could hold the advantage in his free agency.