Brandon Workman

Brandon Workman's latest struggle raises questions about rotation future

August 23, 2014 - 7:43 pm

Although his time in the majors has been brief, Red Sox starter Brandon Workman already has seen his career marked by two vastly different stretches of play. Through his first eight big league starts, Workman looked like he belonged in the Red Sox rotation, posting a 2-1 record with a 2.91 ERA. He became the first Red Sox pitcher to make eight straight starts of five or more innings and three or fewer runs allowed since World War II. Unfortunately for the 6-foot-5 righty, the last eight outings have been a far cry from his stellar debut, with an 0-8 record and a 6.75 ERA bloating his career numbers during the second half of the 2014 season. He now has achieved history of another sort, becoming the first Sox pitcher since Red Ruffing in 1929 to absorb a loss in eight or more consecutive appearances. Workman's latest outing fit his current trend of ineffectiveness, as the 26-year-old was torched for 10 hits and seven earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings against the Mariners on Saturday in what eventually resulted in a 7-3 Red Sox defeat. Despite his discouraging box score, Workman began the game on a good foot, holding Seattle scoreless through the first three innings, including a 1-2-3 inning in the third. "It was a quick inning,"Workman said. "I threw strikes, made some good pitches, got ground balls. ... I didn't execute like that in the fourth." Indeed, the fourth inning was a vastly different for Workman. In between a strikeout to Mariners designated hitter Endy Chavez for the first out in the frame, Workman was rocked for five singles and one double, which, coupled with a wild pitch, helped erase Boston's 3-0 lead and give the Mariners a 4-3 advantage. Seattle left fielder Dustin Ackley would end the Mariners' scoring outburst with an exclamation point, jumping on a high fastball from Workman and depositing it just past Pesky's Pole to make it a 7-3 contest. "He gets through the first three innings in good shape, and then in the fourth inning when things started to slip away from him, he still pitched ahead in the count, unfortunately unable to put a number of hitters away in that fourth inning," said Red Sox manager John Farrell after the game. "On a day when you look down and figure that we've got a maximum of five innings available in the bullpen, likely four, we tried to get him through the fourth." Workman, who was removed from the game after Ackley's blast, gave up career highs in both hits and earned runs during his outing. "It's really just about executing pitches," Workman said after the game. "Like I said, the ball was up all day for me. You can't pitch like that. You can't pitch with everything belt-high, and that's what I did today and they took advantage of it." While it appeared that Workman's struggles might be attributed to fatigue, the Arlington, Texas, native chalked up his poor performance to just a lack of sticking to his game plan. "I felt good all day," Workman said. "I thought I could [get out of the jam], but I just wasn't executing is what it came down to. I didn't execute pitches when I had to in the fourth inning." Despite Workman's poor track record as of late, Farrell added that he does not expect to give his starter an extended break or demote him to the bullpen going forward. "That hasn't been discussed yet, no, no," Farrell said. "Today he came out and showed good arm strength and showed decent action to his curveball early, but then he made some mistakes on the plate, particularly ahead in the count with his fastball." While the combined effort of Alex Wilson, Junichi Tazawa and Burke Badenhop out of the bullpen posted a line of no hits and no runs over 5 2/3 innings with five strikeouts to close out the game, the damage allowed by Workman was too much for Boston to overcome Saturday afternoon. "They did a great job," Workman said of the bullpen. "All of them. Wilson threw the ball very well today, same with Taz and [Badenhop]. ... It's just that fourth inning. They got all their runs in the fourth, and that falls on me."