With Koji currently on the DL and the Orioles already declaring it most likely he will return as a member of the bullpen, I started wondering what kind of bullpen role he should have. Assuming there are no set-backs in his rehab Koji will return late in the season for the Orioles.
Koji has experience closing so it is possible he could close for the Orioles. This would seem unlikely as the Orioles will be using Jim Johnson as their closer and then probably Danys Baez as the back-up. However if either are injured or Baez is traded, it is fairly likely he could be the back-up closer.
Koji as a set-up man, probably in the eight-inning role is the most likely role. As a former closer Koji has had to deal with high-leverage situations and with another closer on the team he's unlikely to be closing. This role would allow Koji to go all out like his fellow Japanese counterpart Takashi Saito is doing for the Red Sox. This runs the risk of Koji blowing his arm out as he overdoes his pitches. It also potentially doesn't allow him to fully use his starter's reportoire. However, Koji this year has suffered from fatigue. Keeping him to one inning should prevent this
Koji as a long-man is another likely possibility. Most likely he would be a two-inning pitcher like Baez is or Mark Hendrickson. This role may be predicated on the Orioles trading either Baez or Hendrickson because as it is the Orioles have three (3!) longmen the most on any team. Of course they actually need the multiple long men as starters like Jason Berken and Rich Hill have had trouble making it through five innings consistently. This would allow Koji to use all his pitches including his change-up and hopefully maximize his value. This situation seems to presume that some reliever gets traded.
So what do you guys think? What bullpen role do you believe Koji would best serve in? My vote is for long man. What's yours?
What bullpen role should Koji Uehara be placed in?
Closer (11 votes)
Set-up (13 votes)
Long Man (24 votes)
Other (0 votes)
48 total votes