FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Brandon Workman took to the closer’s role with the Boston Red Sox.
Craig Kimbrel left as a free agent following Boston’s 2018 World Series title. Workman made his first opening-day roster since 2014, earned his first big league save last May 19 against Houston and finished 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA and 16 saves in 22 chances.
He led major league relievers with a .123 opponents’ average, .166 opponents’ slugging percentage and a 0.13 home runs per nine innings.
“Last year. I didn’t know if my role was going to be on the team or not so it’s definitely nice knowing I probably will make the team,” Workman said. “Being a closer is kind of the job everybody wants in the bullpen. I wanted that from the time I became a reliever.”
He has gone 215 batters since allowing his last homer, to Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon on May 5. That was the only one off the 31-year-old right-hander last season.
“I think with just his makeup, it takes a different type of mentality to allow a guy to be a closer every year,” new Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said. “They have to be willing to go out there, and they’re going to give it up at times and lose a ballgame. And then, how are they the next day when they bounce back? Workman has the mentality to do that, so it allows us to believe that he can go out and do that for an entire season.”
Workman wants to cut down walks. He allowed 45 in 71 2/3 innings last year while striking out 104.
“There is still a lot of room to improve,” Workman said. “Some of them were good walks that I didn’t mind. Some of them were bad walks that didn’t need to happen..”
Workman stranded 19 of 21 inherited runners and retired 55 first batters in 73 games, averaging just over 17 pitches per inning.
“It would be great if these guys could go out and have some games where they’re one inning and 10-15 pitches instead of always in the 20s,” Roenicke said. “Because if you’re always in the 20s then I have to back off on you somewhere.”