Reliever who excelled through '13 Series run returns to form after 2 years away
By Craig Forde
Special to MLB.com |
BOSTON -- Persistence and patience are finally paying off for Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman, who is contributing to one of the best bullpens in the game after two years away from the big league club.
The hard-throwing right-hander emerged as a valuable arm in Boston's 'pen as a rookie back in 2013, shining brightest in its title run when he made seven scoreless postseason appearances, including three in the World Series.
In Workman's sophomore campaign, he logged 87 Major League innings in 19 outings (15 starts), but heading into his third season, he had some elbow soreness, which soon revealed a bigger program that ultimately lead to Tommy John surgery.
After missing the entire 2015 season, Workman finally returned to the mound last July, throwing 20 innings across three levels of the Minors while he began working back into game form.
Starting this season with Triple-A Pawtucket, Workman showed early on that his stuff was returning, and the Sox could ignore it no longer, as they recalled him in early May.
"The power has returned. This is a guy who pitched the eighth inning of Game 6 of the World Series," manager John Farrell said. "It's never been about not trusting in his competitiveness. It's about being patient and waiting on the return of his physical abilities, and they're back."
Workman, who boasts a 1.86 ERA in 19 1/3 innings, has not given up a run in 10 of his 13 appearances this season.
In Workman's seven appearances since July 24, he has not surrendered a run and has only allowed six hits while striking out eight, in the process helping the Red Sox's bullpen post an American League-best 2.94 ERA, second only to the Dodgers in the Majors.
"I feel really good right now," Workman said. "Like John said, I have some of the velocity and finish to my stuff that I had pre-surgery, and haven't had up until recently. I feel like everything is coming out really well."
Unsurprisingly, the right-hander admits to being frustrated through the grueling process of getting back to where he is now, but Workman wisely spent that downtime watching and learning even more about the game. On top of the power, his mechanics are stronger now, aiding his breaking pitches and boosting his confidence to a level he hasn't felt since his rookie run.
"[Workman is] healthy," Farrell said. "In 2013 -- this is very similar to the way he pitched prior to the Tommy John surgery. The fact that he's gone through the rehab, the games pitched to get back to the physical stuff he has now, I'm sure he's learned more about who he is as a pitcher and how he's using his breaking balls, both the curveballs and the slider."
"I feel like I'm in a good spot right now," Workman said. "It's been a lot of hard work. To be back and contributing, to see the end result, it's good."
Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.