In 2019, the Boston Red Sox entered the season without a closer. Alex Cora's closer-by-committee format backfired a bit as guys couldn't settle into their respective roles, which led to some early-season struggles for the bullpen.
But by the middle of the season, the Red Sox found a rhythm in their bullpen. And a lot of that was thanks to Brandon Workman's emergence as a quality closer.
Workman ended up with a career-high 16 saves while going 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA. He averaged an excellent 13.1 K/9 on the season and was one of the team's most consistent pitchers.
Moving forward, it looks like he'll get a chance to close once again.
On Wednesday, Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke spoke about Workman and endorsed him as the early favorite to be the closer.
"I think with what he did last year, he deserves a shot to be the closer," Roenicke said, per ESPN's Joon Lee.
Of course, things could change if Workman struggles in spring training. Or if another back-end bullpen candidate outshines him. But at least heading into spring training, Workman is the prohibitive favorite.
That said, Roenicke did say that he wouldn't restrict himself to just using Workman in the ninth inning and that he would, on occasion, use him in high-leverage spots.
"I don't think it has to be automatic, but I know mentally, these guys handle things better if they know what's going on," Roenicke said, per Lee. "If I have a discussion with him earlier and say, 'Listen you're the closer, but I may need you to stop an inning in the eighth because it's important,' I think they're fine with that."
That's a perfectly reasonable strategy and it's one that many major-league managers have adopted, especially in the postseason. So long as Workman is ready for that, it should have a shot to work out just fine.
It will be interesting to see if Workman can build on his 2019 success. His 73 appearances were far and away his career high but given that he was consistent all last year and didn't fade down the stretch, the 31-year-old should have a chance to repeat his success at some level.