Workman wins, but ticketed for pen
July, 31, 2013
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Even though Boston Red Sox rookie pitcher Brandon Workman presumably will head back to the bullpen now that the club has added veteran starter Jake Peavy, he continues to impress.
The 24-year-old right-hander earned his first big league win during Tuesday’s 8-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park. He worked six innings and allowed one run on six hits with one walk and nine strikeouts.
After the game and before news of the Peavy deal broke, Workman said he was pleased with his outing but hadn’t been told whether his role would change moving forward.
“That’s not my place to say,” Workman said. “It’s not something I try to worry about. I’m just trying to go out there and do the best I can every time they give me the ball in whatever role that may be.”
When the Red Sox first recalled Workman from Triple-A Pawtucket on July 9, he was brought in as a reliever and made his major league debut the following night at Seattle, allowing three runs on four hits, including a home run, in two innings of work.
But when the Red Sox were in need of a starter with Clay Buchholz missing extended time, Workman was thrust into the rotation and has made three starts. He has pitched well in all three, including Tuesday night against the Mariners.
“Hopefully tonight is the first of many wins for him as he goes forward,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “As we’ve seen in the three starts he’s made, once he gets through that first or second inning he really starts to find a very good rhythm.
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesDespite allowing two runs or fewer and going six innings in each of his three starts, Brandon Workman likely will lose his spot in the rotation to Jake Peavy.
“I thought he showed a tremendous amount of poise, particularly in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and gets two key strikeouts of [Michael] Morse and [Justin] Smoak. But the thing that stands out is his willingness to attack the strike zone. He pitched in very well, very effectively to left-handers with his fastball in a solid six innings of work.”
With the addition of Peavy, the Sox’s rotation is set with Jon Lester, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Ryan Dempster and Peavy. As Buchholz continues to rehab a neck strain that has kept him sidelined for nearly two months, Workman can shift back to the bullpen but has the ability to fill in as a starter if needed down the stretch.
His production has been timely for the Red Sox and his win Tuesday night kept them within a half-game of the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East.
“I couldn’t be more excited right now,” Workman said. “Not only did I get my first big league win, but it’s kind of a big spot for a win for our team too. It’s great all the way around.”
When Farrell, a former big league pitcher and pitching coach, speaks highly of a young pitcher, it’s strong evidence he has the ability to compete and win at this level. The faith and confidence the Red Sox have shown in Workman has helped him on the mound.
“It’s great they have confidence in me to let me make these starts,” he said. “I think I can help contribute, so it’s something I’m trying to make the most of every time they give me the ball.”
With Boston holding a 6-1 lead in the top of the sixth, Workman found himself in a bit of a jam. After striking out the Mariners’ Nick Franklin to lead off the inning, he allowed three consecutive singles to load the bases. Workman showed his poise and retired the next two batters -- Morse and Smoak – via strikeouts to end Seattle’s threat.
“I was just trying to execute pitches,” Workman said. “I’ve been executing pretty well all night and had a lot of success, so I was just trying to do that and continue to make my same pitches I had been making all night.”
Overall, Workman was able to throw his curveball for strikes, which is something he struggled with in his first two starts. Since his promotion from Pawtucket, he has allowed eight runs on 19 hits with four walks and 21 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings (3.54 ERA).
He’s also held opponents to two runs or less and worked at least six innings in each of his first three starts, becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to accomplish that since Rick Jones in 1976. Workman also is the first Red Sox pitcher to strike out nine or more batters in one of his first four major league starts since Buchholz did it in his no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles in his second big league start on Sept. 1, 2007.
So far, Workman has shown all the makings of becoming a major contributor for the Red Sox's pitching staff.
“When things went a little hectic, we pressed him into the start and opportunity knocks and he’s grabbed a hold of it and is running with it right now,” Farrell said.
“When he walks to the mound, it’s almost like he’s been here for a lot longer than three starts. Anytime you can go through a turn in the rotation and have six to seven innings each time he walks out there, regardless of the track record or inexperience, it is a sign of stability.”
Prior to the game, former Red Sox pitcher and seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens was in attendance for a celebration of the 25th anniversary of “Morgan Magic” to honor former manager Joe Morgan and the 1988 Red Sox. After the pregame ceremony, Clemens had nothing but good things to say about Workman, a fellow University of Texas standout.
After the game, Workman seemed in awe that Clemens was at the ballpark to witness his first big league win.
“Growing up in Texas and then going to the University of Texas, he’s obviously a hero, or whatever you want to call it,” Workman said. “I had someone to look up to coming from Texas and I had met him one time before when I was in college, so it was great that he was here and I was able to throw well, and anything positive he can say about me is great.”
Of more importance to the Red Sox and Farrell is how Workman can help the team in the here and now. That's likely as a reliever with Peavy in the mix. No matter, Workman’s contributions have been significant so far.