It’s officially do-or-die time for Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Brandon Workman. Once seen as one of the more promising pitching prospects in the farm system, Workman has developed into a solid mid-relief arm. The 30-year old pitcher is out of minor league options and needs to either make the Opening Day roster or risk losing his job altogether.
Boston Red Sox 2019 Player Preview: Brandon Workman
Workman spent the majority of the 2018 season between Pawtucket and Boston. The 30-year started the season in Pawtucket before spending the second half of the season up in the majors. Workman started out great, flashing the talent that made him such an interesting prospect all those years ago. In the first half of the season, Workman posted a 1.62 ERA and a 2.50 FIP. However, he fell apart in the second half, posting a 4.38 ERA and a 5.72 ERA after the All-Star Break.
Despite this, Workman found his way onto the postseason roster. It didn’t go well, as Workman allowed five runs in just three appearances totaling just one inning of work. Workman was so bad that he was replaced on the World Series roster by none other than Drew Pomeranz. The Boston Red Sox felt Drew Pomeranz gave them a better chance to win the World Series than Brandon Workman – that’s not a good thing.
Workman’s flashed promise in the past, but most of that came before his season-ending Tommy John injury in 2015. Workman’s 3.18 ERA since 2017 suggests he’s pitched pretty well, but his 4.49 FIP in that same timeframe suggest he’s been historically lucky. Eventually that luck will turn around, and Workman will need to do something to improve before his luck takes a nasty turn.
The biggest goal for Brandon Workman needs to be just sticking in the majors. The righty is officially on the wrong side of 30 and no longer has minor league options. The Red Sox farm system currently has several interesting and high-upside relievers ready for the majors. However, Workman is blocking them, as the Red Sox will not have his rights unless he’s pitching for Boston.
Depending on how bad the Red Sox bullpen situation is, they may decide to cut bait with Workman altogether and roll with Bobby Poyner, Travis Lakins, and/or Durbin Feltman in his place. This seems unlikely given the current state of the Red Sox bullpen, but it’s still possible. Workman will need to show something, and fast.
Steamer Projections isn’t that high on Brandon Workman entering 2019. According to the website, Workman is expected to finish the season with a 4.40 ERA and a 4.41 FIP in just 25.0 innings of work. The innings total feels low, but aside from that, this prediction seems right. It’s sad to say, but Workman just hasn’t looked like the same guy ever since coming back from Tommy John surgery. He’s had two years to heal, so he should’ve eliminated any rust he might have had.
Workman will make the Opening Day roster, although he’ll probably block somebody more deserving of a bullpen role. Workman isn’t great by any means, but he’s still a fringe-major league arm. There aren’t many of those around, especially at a low cost. Look for Workman to be one of the last arms in the bullpen and not see too many serious innings.