Brandon Workman's Unsuspected Rise

Jamie Gatlin  Aug 14th, 2019 

Entering this season Brandon Workman’s future in Boston was uncertain. The righty had no options remaining and struggled in the second half and postseason last year. In 2019 however, he has not only proved his critics wrong but been the Red Sox best reliever. As the Red Sox have struggled mightily Workman has seemingly put it all together in his fifth major league season.

Through 54 appearances the Texas native has a 1.87 ERA which is by far a career-best. He also has 73 strikeouts and is holding opponents to a .210 batting average. Although he is walking batters at a higher rate, his strikeout rate has reached elite levels. Workman’s success has been a pleasant surprise in a season that for the defending champions has been disappointing.

For Workman in a way, it is a reward for a major league career that has been full of challenges. The former second-round pick made his MLB debut in 2013. Although he had an ERA of 4.97 Workman was able to strike out forty-seven batters in 41.2 innings of work. In the postseason he became a key piece as he did not allow an earned run. The following season he was placed in the rotation which proved to be disastrous.

In 19 games 15 of which came as a starter, Workman went 1-10. He had a career-high ERA of 5.17 and allowed 11 home runs. Following a dominant postseason run, Workman was left looking for answers as he was unable to replicate his success. For the young pitcher, it was only the beginning of his struggles.

On June 15, 2015, Workman underwent Tommy John surgery. He returned to the majors in 2017 and since then has been a useful arm in the Red Sox bullpen. Over that span, the righty has yet to record an ERA above 3.27 while averaging 40 innings. This season however he has shown his dominant form that has been missing since the 2013 postseason.

What has made Workman’s performance special is that he is thriving in high leverage situations. As the Red Sox relievers have struggled Workman, has been trusted with closing duties. Although the righty has blown four saves on the season, he has converted his last four chances. He has provided stability of late to a role that for this team has been a question mark.

Unlike last season Workman is only getting better as the season goes on. He has not given up a run in seven straight appearances and has not allowed more than one hit in an outing since July 23rd.  In that span, he also has five outings with multiple strikeouts.

Regardless of how this season plays out the Red Sox roster will look very different next Spring Training. One of the areas they will look to improve on is the bullpen. If Workman can continue his recent performance than the Red Sox life will become a little easier. He may not be the future closer in Boston, but he will no longer be an afterthought.

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