With a glut of starting pitching depth in the upper levels of the minors, the Red Sox have made the decision to move Brandon Workman to bullpen, according to reporter Jason Mastrodonato.
Workman’s major league career thus far has been essentially an even split between starts (18) and relief appearances (19). And while he hasn’t had much success in either role, that can be partially attributed to the lack of a defined role.
The Red Sox drafted Workman in the second round of the 2010 draft after a successful career at the University of Texas and he has been a starting pitcher for the entirety of his professional career. Workman has been excellent as a starter throughout that minor league career, posting a 3.58 ERA, 8.5 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 since being drafted. However, there have always been concerns over whether Workman will be able to stick as a major league starter and that minor league success has not translated to the major leagues.
While Workman has two solid offerings in his fastball and 12-6 curve, he has been unable to develop that reliable third pitch that so often makes the difference between starters and relievers. In addition, Workman has not maintained the elite command that made him so effective in his minor league career, walking 3.6 batters per nine innings in his major league career.
Through Workman’s 19 career relief appearances, he has actually been worse than he has as a starter, posting a 6.07 ERA in relief versus 4.82 from the rotation. However, that likely can be attributed to his inexperience with a relief role, as he made exactly one relief appearance in his minor league career.
Taking a longterm view, a move to the bullpen should be beneficial for both Workman and the Red Sox. Allowing Workman to spend spring training focusing on pitching from the bullpen should drastically improve his performance, as he has the two strong pitches and solid command necessary to be a great reliever. In turn, that will provide the Red Sox with another reliable reliever that can help them next season and in the future. The Red Sox’ team is beginning to take shape and, with the bullpen one of the team’s weaker areas, there’s a good chance that Workman could play a key role.