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Brandon Workman making his pitch for an increased role in Red Sox bullpen

Dan Shulman
July 20, 2017 - 12:09 pm

After missing the past two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery and an oblique injury, Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman looks to have finally turned the corner, emerging as a bullpen option once again.

"What we're seeing is guy who is better understanding himself after going through what he has," Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Thursday's game against the Blue Jays. "And now with the physical stuff returning, he's more advanced now than he's ever been."

Workman has made five appearances this season with a 2.89 ERA. Even more encouragingly, his velocity has crept back up close to its pre-surgery form. According to Brooks baseball, Workman has topped out at 96 mph this month, up from 91 mph in May. Pre-injury, he was clocked at 97 mph.

This season, Workman has split time between Pawtucket and Boston. His last three appearances have come in either the ninth inning or extra innings, thanks to a series of marathon games, and Workman could be creating an opportunity to make higher-leverage appearances, especially with Joe Kelly and Blaine Boyer injured.

"I would, depending on who's available," Farrell said. "In their absence, other guys have stepped in and they earn your trust a lot quicker."

"The way Brandon Workman is throwing the ball now is equal to where he was pre-surgery," Farrell added.

In July of 2013, Workman made his debut by replacing Andrew Miller in the bullpen. Despite a rocky first appearance in which he allowed three runs, Workman remained with the big club, compiling a 6-3 record in 20 appearances for the remainder of the 2013 season.

Workman's role increased in the playoffs. The rookie made seven postseason appearances without allowing an earned run. His most pivotal moment came in Game 6 of the World Series when he threw a perfect eighth, setting up Koji Uehara in the eventual series clincher.