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While Brandon Workman’s role grows, Red Sox mulling how to fix Felix Doubront

09.07.13 at 12:31 am ET
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NEW YORK — Offense was the dominant storyline in the Red Sox‘ 12-8 victory that erased a five-run deficit on Friday night in Yankee Stadium, but a pair of pitching subplots were also at work.

First and foremost, left-hander Felix Doubront continued his recent struggles. For the second straight start, he lasted just 3 2/3 innings, and he’s now failed to record an out in the fifth inning in four of his last six starts. During that span, he has a 6.60 ERA. His stuff offered considerable grounds for concern on Friday. Doubront allowed just three hits (all well-struck: a homer, double and triple) but matched a career- and season-high by walking six, and manager John Farrell noted that it was at about this stage of the 2012 season that the left-hander benefited from a period of rest that allowed him to sharpen his arsenal over the final starts of the year.

Given that, with the Sox having an off-day on Monday and the return of Clay Buchholz now imminent, Farrell implied that the team would give consideration to the possibility of altering Doubront’s immediate future in the rotation.

“It’s about his command. The velocity is down a little bit. I know last year he went through a similar stretch late in the season where the command the walks continued to pile up, be a little erratic,” said Farrell. “We’ve got the off day is coming up, obviously Clay’s pending return. We’ve got some things to work through here and kind of see what’s best for us and Felix as well.”

For his part, Doubront suggested that the issue was mechanical rather than one of fatigue.

“I have to figure out something,” said Doubront. “I think it’s more mechanics. I feel like I can throw hard but I don’t want to overthrow I think it’s going to be worse than that. I was trying to figure out something with my mechanics during the game, but that doesn’t work. I have to do my five-day routine, talking with [pitching coach Juan Nieves], talk with somebody to watch videos to see what happened. Physically it’s good, I feel fine, my arm feel’s good.”

Doubront said that the matter of his rotation status is not on his mind.

“They have to make decisions,” he said. “I’m not thinking about that.”

While Doubront’s role is now slightly less secure, Brandon Workman continues to play a role of ever-increasing significance. After the Red Sox rallied to tie the game with a five-run top of the seventh, Workman entered and blew the doors off. He struck out Alfonso Soriano on four pitches, got Robinson Cano on a first-pitch groundout and then struck out Alex Rodriguez on three pitches, beating him with a pair of swing-and-miss fastballs and then freezing him with a nasty curve. The eight-pitch blitz permitted the Sox to sustain the momentum built in the five-run seventh; the team followed that frame with a four-run eighth to give Workman — who came back out for the eighth, getting an Ichiro Suzuki groundout before permitting a walk to Eduardo Nunez — his fifth victory of the year.

At a time when the Sox are trying to figure out a way to get Junichi Tazawa to regain his consistency, Workman appears to be carving out en expanding late-innings role as one of Farrell’s most trusted setup men.

“After we scored the runs to tie it up, for Workman to go out and put up a zero, obviously that kept the momentum on our side. You looked at the scoreboard, every time we scored a run, they’d come back with two. That, to me, is the most important inning inside a given game, is the unanswered runs,” said Farrell. “It says a lot about the person as much as the pitcher. His mound pressure, composure — he’s pitched in some tight situations at a very early stage. He continues to excel.”

Read More: Brandon Workman, Clay Buchholz, felix doubront,
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