In the span of about a week, the Red Sox have ranged from likely to make a move to likely to stand pat. As much as anything else, that has to do with the performance of a pair of young pitchers: Drake Britton and Brandon Workman. Called up to replace struggling pitching prospect Allen Webster, Workman has surfaced as a viable back-end option with a couple of strong starts to begin his major league career. Britton was recalled due to injury, and has been lights out in the Red Sox’ bullpen; he is yet to allow a run as a major leaguer.
Workman is set to start tonight against the Mariners, and the Red Sox will be pleased if he can continue what he has done in his first two starts. He held the A’s hitless through six, before allowing a pair of runs in the seventh, in his first start and then was the hard-luck loser in last Monday’s shutout against Matt Moore and the Rays. His stats are brought down by a poor relief appearance in his major league debut, he his 13:3 K:BB ratio and .250 opponents’ batting average outweigh his 4.40 ERA. A strong start tonight for Workman will go a long way to insure that the Red Sox don’t sell the farm for a starting pitcher.
Britton, the starter in 102 of his 106 minor league games, has served in the bullpen and the new role has fit him well. He has thrown just six innings in five appearances, but has only allowed three baserunners and has struck out four. He is filling the role of an Andrew Miller, as he has held lefties to just a .111 batting average so far. The appearance of Britton may well prevent the Red Sox from making a move on a high-leverage reliever.
Britton likely will not pitch tonight after going two scoreless last night; however, Workman will make his case tonight. If he does well, I believe the Red Sox will be considerably less likely to make a major move than if he does poorly. Either way, however, it’s always fun to see young players coming up and succeeding and if their success can prevent the Red Sox from giving up more young players, then what’s not to root for?