In the end, Uehara came in and closed without drama and the Red Sox won, and I was thrilled to see him in the 8th inning this time. Still, Farrell could have blown this one by not having Uehara ready, or having him ready, but not bringing him in to pitch to HanRam, who represented the tying run. Swinging a hot bat and having clouted one the game before, this was no time to conserve your best for a much needed win that could have easily resulted in a demoralizing loss.
Is this a case of damned if he does and damned if he don't? Farrel IMHO did make sure that Uehara was ready if the go ahead run came to the plate. If we had gotten out of the inning, then he's already hot and ready to come out in the ninth. The situation dictates the use...
While I understand the need to conserve a 38 year pitcher with limited closing experience, this game, and the one in SF, were both hanging on a thread. Between the Tampa dogfight and the wildcard pack looming behind, these situations demand the best, and Uehara needs to be stretched a bit when the moment beckons, especially when he hasn't been working as much. I gotta say, it irked me to see him pitch in the blowout in SF just to get in some work before an off day after being saved in the critical spot(s) the night before.
I think your missing the point, he's not trying to conserve Uehara, he's trying to maximize his effectiveness and have him available for save situations. Which is why he didn't pitch in the game in SF and why he did pitch yesterday.
This is also not a knock on Breslow, who has been very reliable, and clearly should have been in there to pitch to the lefty AGon, who also didn't represent the tying run in that situation. This time, Breslow didn't get the out for which he was called upon. Farrell should have ready with Uehara to pitch to the righty HanRam with the game now on the line.
My guess is that entering the 8th up 4-0 that Uehara was told to get himself ready for the 9th (unless we put up a crooked number in the top of the frame). Then when things started to go south, he was told to get hot, once he was ready to go Farrel called his number. It takes time to get loose and entering the 8th with both Tazawa and Breslow set-up to hold a 4 run lead. Uehara is not going to waste bullets getting hot until the bullpen coach tells him to get ready to go.
Going forward, I hope the set up guys do their job and Uehara can be reserved for the 9th. However, Tazawa is proving to be a shaky link. I would like to see Workman given a try, and/or Farrell shorten Taz's leash and give him a quicker hook when he gets into trouble. While Uehara shouldn't be expected to cover the 8th, he should be ready when he hasn't pitched in consecutive games and the game is on the line.
It's fairly clear that Tazawa is hitting a wall from over use. Sox need another late innings option to give the guy a blow. That was supposed to be Thornton (injured) and I think the hope was that Morales could step back into that role too, he's still not right...Workman is not the answer, he's still learning how to pitch out of the pen and his role is to be a multiple innings middle guy...leaving few options in high leverage situations. I think we will see Uehara used to get four outs more often in the next few weeks, but they also need to be careful not to oversue him and then we're left with no one fresh to close out close games.
We're almost into September. It's not time to conserve as much. It's time to go for it by using your best.
In the end the Sox Pen has become an area of concern given the myriad of injuries that have eroded the depth and casued them to have to use Tazawa more often than Farrel would like. What they need is for someone not named Tazawa and Uehara to step up and take the ball in the late innings and put up zeros. Workman and Britton are the long middle guys a role that helps to conserve the end game guys..Breslow's our lefty specialist...Morales is the guy with the stuff to grab the oar and pick up the slack...Short of that we're going to need the starters to get deeper and the bats to put up some crooked numbers to minimize the need to over use Tazawa and Uehara...