Koji: The splitter returns

Since he gave up that three-run homer to A-Rod on Friday night, Koji Uehara has pitched scoreless innings vs. the Yankees and Red Sox, fanning five of six hitters.

His split-finger pitch has returned.

He threw several nasty ones Sunday vs. New York and it looked like he mixed in one or two in Monday’s quick save vs. Boston.

That’s two innings, 21 pitches, 17 strikes and strikeouts vs. Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson, J.D. Drew and Jason Varitek.

For a while it looked to me like Koji got away from his split-finger pitch. I thought he might throw it on 2-2 vs. A-Rod, but he didn’t.

I had an interesting exchange with Buck Showalter in the pre-game interview session Sunday when I asked him if he thought Koji should mix in more splitters, since he seems to throw the pitch so well.

“It depends on who the hitter is. There is never the wrong pitch if you throw it with conviction and throw it in the right spot for the most part. Everybody knows the areas to stay out of, but can you do it. Pitching is hard to do,” Showalter said.

“You can’t have do-overs in this game. He’s done pretty well for the most part. Plenty of guys have had trouble closing out a lead against them.

“Will he throw more splits? There is a flip side to that too. You’re in the other dugout and he’s given up some damage on fastballs, what are you looking for? Split. There is a cat and mouse game there that goes on.”

Some readers have written to say Matt Wieters should have called for a splitter the other night vs. A-Rod. In the end, the pitcher throws what he wants.

Buck indicated he basically agrees with that.

“His head (the pitcher) moves both ways, yes and no. If there’s a real strong, adamant conviction about it, you’ll see a catcher go to the mound.

“But a lot of factors figure into that. The tempo of the inning. I was talking to JJ in the outfield. Sometimes there is a not a wrong pitch, what’s wrong is the conviction you throw it with. If you let the wood start burning and you let your brain get in the way of your body some time.

“I talk to the young pitchers about the presentation they make. It’s out there, bing, strike one, let’s go, instead of letting them see any anxiety in the way you present yourself. Teams feast on that anxiety or lack of conviction about what you’re doing.”

As usual, Buck makes a lot of sense.

And it makes a lot of sense to me for Koji to keep using that nasty split-finger pitch. It’s quite a put-away pitch for him when he locates it well, as he has these last two outings.

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