Brandon Workman an important piece of Red Sox bullpen


After a promising stint with the Red Sox to close the 2013 season, Brandon Workman‘s 2014 season was a disappointment to say the least. Workman started 15 games, making 4 more relief appearances, and went just 1-10 with a miserable 5.17 ERA in a tough season for the 25-year old. Any hope of Workman playing a key role in Boston’s rotation next season may have gone by the wayside; however, there’s still hope that the youngster can turn it around, and if he does, it’s likely to come in the bullpen.

In his major league career, Workman has actually been worse in the bullpen than in the rotation, posting a 6.07 ERA in relief versus 4.82 when starting. However, that’s likely more a factor of being unprepared for relief, having been a starting pitcher for the entirety of his career, than any longterm condemning of his chances.

In fact, with some preparation for a bullpen role, it’s likely that Workman could have a good deal of success in relief. Workman boasts two strong pitches, a mid-90’s fastball and a sharp 12-6 curve, and while two plus pitches isn’t enough for a starting pitcher, it’s plenty for a reliever. Moreover, not only will shorter stints allow Workman to get away with his limited arsenal, but it should also allow his stuff to play up as he won’t need to last for several innings as he would in a starting role.

As it stands, the bullpen is one of the weaker areas on the Red Sox team. Despite keeping Koji Uehara and Craig Breslow, adding Anthony Varvaro, and already having Junichi Tazawa and Edward Mujica for late-inning roles, the Red Sox still have two available places in the bullpen. It’s widely rumored that the Red Sox will acquire one more reliever before the start of the season, but that still leaves a space for Workman.

And at his best, Workman could be quite an asset to a shallow bullpen. In addition to his stuff playing up and allowing him to live up to his potential, Workman also offers the ability to pitch multiple innings in a swingman or long relief role. That is not only inherently valuable, but it also allows the Red Sox to rest some of their other relievers down the stretch run.

There’s no guarantee that Workman will win a job out of spring training, but it would still be wise for the Red Sox to groom Workman for a bullpen spot. With the high-quality pitching prospects that the Red Sox have in Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Brian Johnson (all of whom ought to start the season in Triple-A), Workman likely won’t get another chance at a rotation gig, plus he’s best-suited for the ‘pen anyways. Who knows? With the volatility of relievers, there’s always the chance that he could really find himself in the bullpen.