MESA, Ariz. — If Cubs manager David Ross has his way, newly acquired reliever Brandon Workman — whose one-year deal was made official Thursday — will get the ball in high-leverage situations.
The 32-year-old right-hander is coming off a season in which he went 1-4 with a 5.95 ERA in 21 games with the Red Sox and Phillies. But the Cubs believe he can get back to being the pitcher who had a 1.88 ERA in 71 games in 2019.
“[Workman] is a guy I got a lot of history with,” Ross said. “We played together in 2013 on that championship team in Boston. So I’ve got some background there. I’ve kind of followed his career a little bit. The year he had in , it was pretty impressive out of the bullpen in Boston.
“I think he’s a guy who’s gonna pitch big innings for us. I see him fitting in. He’s got a true four-seam ride. Breaking-ball guy, which is really big in the game right now. He’s a guy that is a really good competitor and a great teammate. Fun to be around, works his tail off and does everything you ask. I see him pitching big innings for us.”
Workman arrived right on time. The bullpen already is down two members with the news of Rowan Wick’s intercostal injury and Kyle Ryan going on the -COVID-19 list.
Closer Craig Kimbrel is one of the few relievers with a solidified role. While many of the relievers are similar, their jobs are still to be determined.
“Things play out as they go,” Ross said. “Guys will show you what they’re made of and who they are and build that trust, just like we saw last year. There was a lot of uncertainty going into last year, and things kind of moved in different ways. And you just communicate and flow as you go.
“We’re definitely going to need those back-end-of-the-bullpen guys to lock down the wins. But we’re also going to need some guys to pitch multiple innings and be stretched out. Different guys will fill in different roles and move in from the starting rotation, maybe back to the bullpen and [be] given different opportunities.”