The Cubs are reportedly close to adding another former closer to their bullpen.
Theo Epstein's front office indicated they were not done adding pieces to Joe Maddon's bullpen after trading for Wade Davis Wednesday, and they are apparently on the verge of acquiring Koji Uehara as well:
Uehara will turn 42 the day after the Cubs' first game in 2017, but he has been very, very good in his big-league career.
In eight seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers, Uehara has a career 2.53 ERA and ridiculous 0.864 WHIP while striking out 522 batters in only 437.2 innings. He also has 93 saves, all but 14 of which have come in the last four seasons in Boston.
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Uehara posted a 3.45 ERA last year but still had a sparkling 0.957 WHIP and gave up only 34 hits in 47 innings with 63 strikeouts.
From 2013-15, Uehara had a 1.86 ERA, 0.771 WHIP and 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
The Neyagawa, Osaka, Japan native pitched in his home country for the Yomiuri Giants from 1999 to 2008, working mostly as a starter and winning 112 games with a 3.01 ERA in 1,549 innings.
Throughout his MLB career, Uehara has been better against left-handed hitters (.183 AVG, .555 OPS) than righties (.208 AVG, .603 OPS) and that gap was even larger in 2016: righties posted an .812 OPS against him while lefties sported only a .478 OPS.
That will help give the Cubs an effective option against left-handed hitters with few southpaws at their disposal.
Uehara figures to provide another late-inning option for Maddon to play around with alongside Davis, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr.
He closed out the Red Sox championship in 2013, giving the 2017 Cubs three of the last four pitchers to get the final out of the World Series (Uehara in 2013, Davis in 2015 and Mike Montgomery in 2016).