Workman was incredulous as the 2019 closer – posting the third-best reliever ERA in the American League, 1.88. He earned his way to becoming the closer as Barnes and Ryan Brasier started the year getting the closing opportunities.
He dominated last year and it is unreasonable to believe he can replicate those numbers in 2020. Teams may be better prepared for Work next year. A weakness is that he lacked reliable control. While only allowing a 3.6 H/9, he had a 5.7 BB/9.
Being named the closer limits the clutch opportunities that Workman will receive. Transferring him to a high-leverage role could make sense for a variety of reasons.
Cora tried this strategy in 2019, primarily utilizing Barnes in that role. He got gassed from constantly facing the heart of the order and by May he was starting to get lit up. Cora’s masterplan failed in 2019.
However, this strategy could work in 2020. If Barnes, Hernandez, Workman, and possibly another arm (more on that later), would prevent one particular person to get over-worked. Also, a starting rotation that can basically only improve in 2020 will put less stress on the bullpen.
Workman may not be the most trustworthy pitcher in a high-leverage situation due to his high walk rate. If a bases-loaded situation were to arise, you don’t want a pitcher who lacks control. If Brandon can learn how to control his curveball more, then he could be a better high-leverage reliever.
Overall, Workman would not be a bad closer if he were to retain that role in 2020. But getting him in the most challenging situations could allow for the Red Sox to win more close games.