With Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront on the disabled list and making rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket, Brandon Workman is making his case to stay in the rotation when the pair returns.
On Sunday afternoon, he went six innings against the Indians, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks with a season-high seven strikeouts. It was the most strikeouts he’s recorded since nine on July 30, 2013, against the Mariners.
Workman took a no-decision on Sunday, as the Sox fell, 3-2, in 11 innings. He retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced, allowing just a solo home run to Michael Brantley in the first. He pitched into the seventh inning, but when the first two batters reached – on a walk and a single – Workman’s outing was done, with Burke Badenhop replacing him.
“I thought he was very good, swing and miss at three different types of pitches, fastball breaking ball and his cutter,” said manager John Farrell. “He hasn’t gone into the seventh inning but a couple of times this year. Still I thought he was strong. He got a number of key strikeouts with men in scoring position. He threw the ball very good. He more than did his job today.”
Workman, who turns 26 on Aug. 13, has made eight appearances, five starts, this season, posting a record of 1-0 with a 2.88 ERA. In five starts this season since joining the rotation on May 25, he has posted an ERA of 3.21, allowing 10 earned runs over 28 innings. Workman and John Lackey (8-4) are the only two Sox pitchers with winning records.
“Something that we quickly came to understand of Brandon a year ago, even in a very early stage go his career he was a consistent strike thrower, kept the tempo and the pace of the game and the emotion of the game under control,” Farrell said. “And he continues to do it whether it was late postseason coming out of the bullpen or in the starter’s role.”
Despite Workman’s performance, Farrell is not ready to say if the right-hander has earned a long-term spot in the rotation.
“We still have some time before those guys [Doubront and Buchholz come back,” Farrell said. “We are not here to make a decision yet. But he is certainly doing everything he possibly can to make a strong statement. He’s put us in a position (to win) every time he walks to the mound.”
“That’s not something I’m really trying to worry about,” Workman said. “I’m focused on trying to throw the ball as well as I can on my day and that’ll take care of itself one way or the other.”
But, Workman may need a replacement in the rotation soon, too. The Sox are waiting for word – expected early this week — from Major League Baseball on Workman’s appeal of his four-game suspension for Throwing at the Rays’ Evan Longoria on May 30.
“That’s another thing that I feel is kind of out of my hands,” Workman said. “We did the appeal, stated our case or whatever you want to call it. And after that, it’s in somebody else’s hand to make that decision. So, I try not to focus on it too much.”