, Newburyport, MA

October 26, 2013

Workman has provided strong playoff work

On Pro Baseball
Christopher Smith

---- — The Cardinals have several young pitchers with talent on display this World Series and the Red Sox have one of their own, too.

Rookie right-hander Brandon Workman, who turned 25 in August, is coming into his own this postseason with 6.1 scoreless innings. He has become a bullpen arm who manager John Farrell can trust in more high leverage situations.

He also is a candidate to give the Red Sox two or three strong innings out of the bullpen in Game 4 tomorrow if Clay Buchholz leaves early because of his tired shoulder.

Game 3 of the World Series, meanwhile, is tonight in St. Louis at 8:07 p.m. Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy faces Cardinals righty Joe Kelly.

Workman started the year in Double-A Portland and worked his way to Boston by the second week of July. Since then, he’s been picking several of the veteran pitchers’ brains.

“I’ve definitely tried to learn off their routines,” Workman said. “We’re all a little bit different off the mound. So how we attack hitters is a little bit different. But the preparation of some of the veterans. (John) Lackey, (Jon) Lester, guys in the bullpen, (Craig) Breslow, (Matt) Thornton, Koji (Uehara), those guys’ preparation. I’ve tried to kind of grab onto little bits and pieces from each one of them.”

Workman made three starts for Boston during the regular season, posting a 2.45 ERA (five earned runs in 18.1 innings). But he struggled after being moved to the bullpen when the Red Sox acquired Jake Peavy.

The rookie had an ugly 6.94 ERA (18 earned runs, 23.1 innings) in 17 relief outings.

He always had displayed such strong command. Baseball America ranked him as having the top control of any Red Sox minor league pitcher entering the 2012 season.

But the righty struggled with his control when he moved to reliever. He walked 11 batters in his 23.1 innings.

Relieving certainly was a much different experience and not the easiest transition for Workman who was mainly a starter in the minors.

When asked what the biggest transition and adjustment was for him in the ‘pen, Workman said: “Just the consistency every day of their pregame routines, their routines during the game to get ready. How consistent they are. That way they kind of know what they’re expecting out on the mound from their body. And I’ve been trying to grab on to some of that.”

Workman has walked two batters this postseason, but he feels more in command.

“I think in the beginning I was trying to make perfect pitches every single pitch and not just attacking hitters,” Workman said. “I’ve been kind of trying to make good pitches but also be attacking the strike zone. It’s been something I’ve been working on.”

Entering spring training, Workman’s goal was to make his major league debut this season.

“I prepared in the offseason, trying to be ready if the opportunity presented itself,” he said. “But to be able to achieve that and be here right now and be able to be contributing, it’s unbelievable.”

Workman has learned a great deal from watching Lester pitch so well this postseason.

This intense Red Sox playoff run and the experience Workman has gained from pitching in these games and watching Lester as well as other veterans will only help him as he enters spring training next year competing for a job in the Red Sox starting rotation.

“He’s not giving up runs and he’s throwing deep into baseball games,” Workman said about Lester. “He’s had a great postseason and that’s something as a young pitcher, (it helps) watching. He had a great season, too, but the way he took it to the next level in the postseason, it’s been really fun to watch.”

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB