Pawtucket Pitchers Don’t Offer Much Relief

It’s no secret that the Red Sox pitching staff is struggling. David Price isn’t 100% yet. Drew Pomeranz can’t quite maintain consistency. Rick Porcello can’t win a game. Chris Sale is the only one who’s dominating opposing pitchers. Unfortunately, AAA Pawtucket pitchers don’t offer the Boston Red Sox much in terms of relief.

Henry Owens Continues To Struggle

Henry Owens signed with the Red Sox as a 1st round draft pick (36th overall) in 2011.pawtucket pitchers Many touted him as an eventual addition to the Red Sox rotation but his performance in Boston has been anything but promising. In 16 MLB game starts between 2015 and 2016 Owens is 4-6 with a 5.19 ERA. For now Owens is a mainstay in Pawtucket where he has a  4-4 record with a 3.72 ERA as of June 17th. Owens’ main problem continues to be his control. Unfortunately, unless we see some dramatic improvement, Owens likely won’t make it to the majors anytime soon.

Noe Ramirez Is Questionable

Noe Ramirez signed with the Red Sox in 2011 in the fourth round (142nd overall). While he’s currently 3-2 in Pawtucket as of June 18th, his MLB debut keeps many doubtful about his future. He made his debut with the Red Sox in July of 2015 and pitched an inning of relief. His debut proved disastrous. Ramirez allowed four runs (one unearned) on three hits, hit a batter, and struck out one while picking up the loss. Not exactly a debut that strikes confidence.

Brandon Workman’s 2014 Record Still Haunts Him

Brandon Workman has a 3-1 record with Pawtucket so far this season. Workman pitched well in 2013 finished with a 6-3 record including a perfect 8th inning in Game 6 of the 2013 World Series. 2014 was another story. Not only did he finish with a 1-10 record for a .091 winning percentage, but he received a six game suspension for throwing behind the Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria. A 7-13 MLB record with a suspension under his belt doesn’t make it likely he’ll move up to Boston anytime soon.

Pawtucket Hitters Don’t Offer Much Either

While Pawtucket pitchers aren’t a beacon of hope right now, their hitters aren’t faring much better. Blake Swihart, once a promising player, now lingers in Pawtucket with a .210 batting average as of June 17th. Boston once thought they’d make Swihart a staple behind the plate, or even in left field. But Christian Vazquez is playing better. Andrew Benintendi is doing well in left field. This leaves Swihart’s role with the Red Sox in question. Then there’s Rusney Castillo who, after signing a $72.5 million contact, was supposed to be the next big thing in Boston. While he played okay in 2015 with a .253 batting average, he continues to linger in Pawtucket and goes up to Boston for a cup of coffee here and there. Then there’s Allen Craig…

It’s hard to assign 100% of the blame to these players, especially the hitters. Except for 3rd base, Boston has an everyday man with plenty of utility players to plug the holes. But these players will find it difficult to advance if they’re not traded or start playing better, especially the Pawtucket pitchers.

A Switch to Relief is a Relief for Brandon Workman

Brandon Workman

Unable to capitalize on the opportunity at hand this spring, PawSox pitcher Brandon Workman hopes to get back to the Majors in a timely fashion.
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This year, for the first time in his career, he will serve as a full-time reliever after making 15 starts for the big league club last season.

“Yeah, you know, that’s my role for the season—being used out of the pen—and I’m excited to get brandon workmanto work,” he said. “(I’m) excited to get this thing started up and see where we go from there.”

Some saw the move coming from a mile away and many were surprised that the move did not come a year earlier— after he tossed 8.1 scoreless frames for the Red Sox in the 2013 post season. With high hopes the team tried Workman out as a starter last year, but the results were not great.
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He went 1-10 with a 5.17 ERA in 19 appearances (15 starts) and although he was not a standout, he was not a 1-10 pitcher. He had some outings where the team should have won or where they could have won, but it just did not happen for him. As a result, his WAR suffered— finishing the year at -1.1.

“Last year was a frustrating year for me on a lot of different fronts,” said Workman. “I came out of the beginning part of the year, throwing real well, but things really tailed off for me in the summer. Like you said, there were times when I threw the ball well later in the summer. Things didn’t work out all the time, but that’s part of baseball. I took my share of losses when I didn’t throw the ball well. I got a lot of the tough luck out of the way, but I’m set up for a strong year this year.”

In his big league career, Workman owns a 6.07 ERA in 21 regular season games as a reliever. Knowing that he pitches well at times and poorly at others, Workman’s goal for this year reflects that.
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“Working on bringing some consistency to the table,” he added. “Like you said, there were some times when I threw the ball well, but there were times I didn’t and I’m trying to get myself in a position where I can consistently perform on a day-in day-out basis over the course of this season.”

A starter not too long ago, it is fair to say that Workman might have a little bit more stamina than many other relievers. With that in mind PawSox manager Kevin Boles makes it clear that Workman will not be a one inning guy in AAA this year.
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“We really don’t have too many one inning guys,” Boles said. “I mean as far as development goes, we usually have guys who will go one and then parts of an inning.”

Brandon Workman A Reliever?

brandon workmanOn Saturday August 23, Brandon Workman had an outing he will remember for the rest of his career. It was smooth sailing, relatively speaking, for the first three innings — until disaster struck in the fourth. In the fourth inning of that game, Workman surrendered seven runs making it the biggest blunder of his big league career. As a result, he was optioned to AAA Pawtucket in favor of reliever Heath Hembree. Now, it is up for debate on whether or not Workman will be starting next season. Odds are though, he is destined for the bullpen.
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To put it nicely, Brandon Workman is not pitching well as a starter this year. In 12 starts for the Boston Red Sox he is 1-7 with a 5.13 ERA while allowing nine homeruns over the course of 66.2 innings pitched. In contrast as a reliever, Workman has pitched much better. In a small sample size of four games totaling 6.1 innings, he has allowed only two earned runs making for a 2.84 ERA.

This alone is not the reason why he would be best suited for relief. One of the few other reasons is his numbers in the playoffs last year. Making the playoff roster over Drake Britton by the hairs on his chin, Workman proved valuable in relief tossing seven scoreless outings totaling 8.2 innings. Although this may not sound like much, he proved his worth in high leverage situations. Three of those outings came in the ALCS and another three came in the World Series. Not many rookies thrive in such high leverage situations.
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Stamina also comes as an issue as well. Before and after 30 pitches, Brandon Workman is a completely different pitcher. Before he is a star and after — he is garbage. When throwing 30 pitches or less, hitters are hitting just .223 off Workman but from pitches 31-60, that number balloons up to .292 which is not good. Keep in mind there are only 27 MLB players hitting .292 or above who qualify for the batting title, but there are 144 men hitting hitting .223 above who qualify out of 152 total. This means Workman can make Mike Trout look like Bob Uecker when his pitch count is low, but he can do the polar opposite when it is high. Now that may be a bit of an exaggeration but it gets the point across and numbers never lie.
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Right now, the bullpen seems like the best bet for Brandon Workman in 2015. Although Boston has five legitimate Major League starters without him, it is tough to imagine they go into the season without adding a starter or two. By doing so, they could make Workman a full-time reliever giving him a role he can truly thrive in. He would not be the multi-inning guy he is right now, but instead a 7th inning guy who goes out there and gives the team one good inning when called upon. An example of this on the current Red Sox team would be Burke Badenhop. Expect Workman to serve a role similar to Burke Badenhop during the 2015 season.