Brandon Workman is making history (sort of)

Rob Bradford
May 20, 2019 - 9:31 am

Dial up the statistics machine Monday morning and you will find an unexpected revelation.

Brandon Workman is making history.

Of all qualifying relief pitchers since 1913 nobody has a lower batting average against than Workman. After Sunday afternoon's save Workman has allowed just four hits to the 77 batters he has faced, good for an opponent's batting average of .065.

Now, here's the caveat: It's really early.

In fact, the next three names on the list are all pitchers performing in 2019 -- Roberto Osuna, Josh Hader and Alex Colome. After that group, you have Aroldis Chapman's 2014 season (.121) and Andy Messersmith in 1968 (.124). The best-ever for a Red Sox reliever? That would be Koji Uehara's .130 clip in 2013.

No matter where Workman lands it is notable how far he has come.

This was a pitcher who found himself seemingly on the Opening Day bubble after failing to prove he could consistently throw his fastball better than 89 mph. And while last year was a stepping stone after some injury-plagued campaigns leading up to 2018, he didn't make it back to the majors until early June.

The promise that had come with emerging a mid-season savior during the 2013 World Series run just never took root. In 2014 he went 1-10 in 19 appearances with a 5.17 ERA, leading to Tommy John surgery the following year.

Yet as Workman boarded the plane for Toronto Sunday night there he was -- the owner of his first major league save, along with the aforementioned history.

"Yeah, it took me a little longer than I’d have liked," said Workman on getting his first big-league save, having locked down the ninth in the Red Sox' 4-3 win over Houston Sunday. "It was nice to get that. It was exciting obviously. It was cool."

He is now throwing a fastball that hits 94 mph and typically lives around 93 mph (a pitch he hasn't allowed a hit on yet this season), perfectly complementing what has become his go-to pitch, that big curveball. It has led to a career resurgence and much-needed late-inning existence for this Red Sox bullpen.

It was all on display Sunday on the field, and Monday morning the online history books.

The Red Sox got two other relief-pitching standouts Sunday, Marcus Walden and Matt Barnes.

Walden relieved starter Chris Sale in the sixth inning with one out, the bases loaded and the game tied, inducing an inning-ending double play without allowing a run. He extended his scoreless streak to eight innings and since April 20 has given up just one earned run over 18 1/3 innings.

Barnes locked down the eighth, retiring all three of his batters to extend his scoreless streak to 9 2/3 innings, during which time he has struck out 16 and walked two.

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