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)
When the Texas Rangers acquired Koji Uehara from the Baltimore Orioles last season at the trade deadline, it was thought that the move, coupled with Mike Adams coming from San Diego, would make the Rangers' bullpen the best in the league.
And even though the Rangers' pen stacked up well with any other one in the league, it wasn't much to do with Uehara's success. The deceptive right-hander struggled after arriving in Texas, putting up a 4.00 ERA after coming over with a 1.72 ERA that he posted as an Oriole.
He was even left off the World Series roster after putting up a 33.75 ERA in 1.1 innings of work over three postseason games against the Tampa Bay Rays and Detroit Tigers. It was frankly hard to watch as Uehara was a highly likeable guy who seemed to be a great teammate.
This spring, Uehara admitted that he was basically homesick and was shocked to be dealt from Baltimore and never really felt fully comfortable in Arlington last season. The Rangers tried to trade him over the winter, and even had a deal worked out to send him to Toronto but he vetoed the deal with his limited no-trade clause.
Now, the Rangers are glad he did.
Uehara has worked seven innings this year over nine appearances and has given up just two runs with eight strikeouts and no walks. His last five appearances have been an inning apiece and have been perfect.
He's starting to work his way from being a throwaway guy to put out in an impending loss back into a reliable piece of what is becoming an awfully, awfully deep bullpen with seventh, eighth and ninth inning roles already established.