Brandon Workman was sent back to Pawtucket last night, making room for Rubby De La Rosa to return to pitch tonight's game against the White Sox. After making eight straight starts for the Red Sox, missing only the turn through the rotation where he was suspended, it felt like Workman had managed to make himself a semi-permanent fixture, certainly for at least the rest of this lost season.
So what gives? Why is Workman gone while the likes of Jake Peavy--endearing though he may be--remain? Mostly it's just a matter of timing.
The fact that Workman was sent down after three starts saw him surrender 15 runs (13 earned) unfortunately gives the impression that this has something to do with ability and results. Workman mentioning that it's "part of putting my work in" doesn't help that impression. But if the young righty has run into some home run troubles of late, he actually looked reasonably good on the mound last night, more the victim of some questionable defense and luck than his own. His curveball especially was a weapon to be reckoned with, and he managed to go seven innings despite being forced to face more batters than he ever should have.
But rain makes certain demands of teams. A doubleheader forced the Red Sox to mix up their rotation, and the Red Sox are apparently not interested in a return to Felix Doubront, starting pitcher. (And who can blame them?) With Jake Peavy actually drawing some trade interest, he can't simply be tossed to the curb, and that leaves just Brandon Workman to go down and free up some room.
The good news for Workman is that he won't really have to miss all that much time. While he does have to stay in the minors for at least 10 days, those 10 days happen to overlap nicely with the All-Star Break. In fact, with De La Rosa essentially the sixth man this time through the rotation, the Red Sox could very well have Workman scheduled to start in the series against the Royals immediately after the All-Star Break. In fact, the demotion would not have cost Workman a game, it would have just gained him one at the minor league level.
Let's call this what it is. It's not a setback for Workman, or a sign that he's not ready to pitch in the majors. It's very nearly a paper move. Sure, Workman will actually make the trip to Pawtucket so he can get that one extra start in rather than laying fallow for 10 days. But we should all be expecting Brandon Workman back in Boston as soon as possible. He's one of those pieces that the Red Sox need to know as much about as possible heading into 2015, and the best way to do that is to have him finish the year making every fifth start in Boston's rotation.