All Systems Ko

With that pesky gang from Oakland relentlessly nipping at their heels like a pack of rabid Pomeranians, the Rangers have no choice but to keep winning, in order to lock up their third straight AL West title (and, hopefully, another eventual AL pennant).  The top four in their starting rotation have really rounded into form of late, which certainly bodes well for the season’s final stretch, but the Texas bullpen has recently encountered a bit of turbulence.

Joe Nathan certainly isn’t a concern, as his recent blown save was his first since the season’s opening week.  But Robbie Ross has yet to pitch in September, due to injury, and Mike Adams has been fighting through aches and pains which have adversely affected his performance of late.  Meanwhile, both Michael Kirkman and Mark Lowe have posted double-digit ERAs this month. 

Thankfully, the bullpen turbulence appears to have been stabilized by the late-season re-emergence of Koji Uehara, the second-oldest Ranger (next to Nathan).  After having a summer to forget, posting a 6.92 ERA from the start of June to the end of August (bookending a stint on the DL), Koji has really been outstanding so far in September.

This month, Koji has already made seven appearances without yet giving up a single run – earned or unearned – and he’s only allowed one inherited runner to score.  But even more impressive than his numbers has been the overall package.

Koji’s mound presence has been imposing.  His enthusiasm has been contagious.  And most importantly, his stuff has been absolutely electric, bordering on unhittable.  In fact, Koji has only given up one hit the entire month, holding the opposition to a microscopic .062 batting average.  He’s only allowed one walk during that same span, while striking out seven.  There have only been two batters to reach base on Koji so far in September.

The man best known for his trademark sideburns is giving every Rangers fan a reason to join in his enthusiastic post-inning dugout celebrations.  If he can continue to deliver at this level (or even near it) through the end of the season, the Rangers should be able to hold off the A’s and wrap up the division.  And if he can keep it up into the postseason, this team’s final celebration of 2012 could very well take place on the mound instead of the dugout. 

Bob Bland is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Bob.Bland@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @SDIBob.
Bob Bland

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