JoJo Romero has a big opportunity in Phillies’ bullpen

After all these years, Brandon Workman is finally a Phillie.

The 32-year-old relief pitcher was selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2007 draft. He opted not to sign and attended the University of Texas, where he was a roommate of former Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp.

After a decade spent in the Boston Red Sox organization, where he won two World Series rings, Workman was traded to the Phillies on Friday along with fellow reliever Heath Hembree.

Workman joined his new club in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon. A short while later, he donned a red T-shirt emblazoned with the Phillies logo on the front and spoke to reporters via video conference.

“The way it worked out,” he said, looking down at his chest. “Kind of cool.”

In a classy move, Workman mentioned the name Paul Scott. He was the former Phillies scout who pushed for the club to draft Workman 13 years ago.

“It was definitely exciting,” Workman said. “It just didn’t work out financially. I wanted to go to college, get an education and develop a little more as a player before I got into pro ball.”

Workman had Tommy John surgery in 2015 and the recovery was a slow grind. He really put things together last year for the Red Sox. He worked as their closer, saved 16 games and had a 1.88 ERA in 73 games. His record was 10-1. He gave up just one homer in 71⅔ innings.

Workman’s ERA last year was sixth-best among big-league relievers.

His 13.06 strikeouts-per-nine innings was 16th-best.

Workman had the best mark for relievers in the majors in opponents batting average (.123), opponents slugging percentage (.166) and opponents OPS (.433).

The Phillies hope he brings some of that effectiveness to their bullpen as the 60-game sprint moves into the final six weeks. Workman will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Manager Joe Girardi has been hesitant to reveal his plans for Workman other than to say Workman will see high-leverage work late in games. Workman will give the Phils an option at closer if Hector Neris struggles or if the team simply wants to move Neris to a setup role.

What is Workman’s preferred role? 

“Whenever I’m called upon, I want to throw the ball the best I can in whatever inning (Girardi) sees fit,” Workman said. “I just want to perform as well as I can.”

The Phillies’ bullpen entered Saturday night with a 7.97 ERA, worst in the majors. The Phillies need Workman, Hembree and former Yankee David Hale, another Friday pickup, to help lead improvement. The Phillies have some good things going on in the starting rotation and on offense. But they’re going nowhere if the bullpen doesn’t get better. A lot better.

Does that put pressure on the new guy?

“No, not really,” Workman said. “Anywhere I’ve been, winning has been the main goal. I want to win. I’ll work hard and just try to go out and win ball games.”

All three of the new relievers were activated before Saturday night’s game in Atlanta. To make room on the roster, the Phils designated reliever Deolis Guerra for assignment and optioned pitchers Cole Irvin and Connor Brogdon to the minors. Outfielder Adam Haseley was activated from the injured list and Jay Bruce went on the IL with a quadriceps strain.

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