Red Sox closer Koji Uehara will miss the rest of the season after being diagnosed with a fractured wrist, the club announced. The team had expressed optimism after the right-hander was struck by a batted ball on Friday night, but further tests apparently revealed a significant injury.
Boston adds that Uehara, 40, “is expected to make a full recovery,” and the team will need him to do just that. He is already under contract for 2016, the back half of the two-year, $18MM deal he signed just before free agency opened following the 2014 campaign.
Despite cracking forty years at the start of the season, and losing about a tick on his average fastball velocity, Uehara has remained one of the league’s most reliably dominant bullpen arms. Through 40 1/3 innings, he owns a 2.23 ERA with 10.5 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9. While that represents a slight decline on the strikeout side and nearly a doubling of the absurdly low walk rate he carried over his first two years with the Red Sox, Uehara still generated a swinging strike rate (18.6%) commensurate with recent seasons.
While the news is disappointing, it seemingly comes at a manageable time. The Red Sox bypassed the chance to trade Uehara at the deadline despite being out of contention, but will have plenty of time to bring him back to health before next season. Of course, it remains to be seen what kind of recovery timeline will be required, not to mention how the somewhat unusual injury could impact the aging-but-excellent veteran.