Red Sox relief pitcher: Garrett Whitlock
From the moment Garrett Whitlock toed the rubber for the Red Sox last season, opposing hitters were in a lot of trouble. The seemingly overlooked Rule 5 pick from the Yankees rode a dominant spring training to a significant role in the Red Sox bullpen and finished second among rookies with at least 50 innings pitched with a 1.96 ERA. With Matt Barnes faltering down the stretch, Whitlock became Cora’s most trusted reliever down the stretch, and the rookie rewarded him with numerous big performances that helped the Red Sox advance to the ALCS.
When you watch Whitlock pitch, it’s easy to see why he’s so difficult to hit. He throws his heavy, mid-90s sinker over 50% a time, a pitch that he controls exceptionally well and is extremely difficult to square up. While that sinker may not induce many whiffs, Whitlock’s secondary pitches were all swing-and-miss offerings. His changeup, slider, and four-seam fastball all had a whiff percentage of over 30% percent.
The biggest question around Whitlock isn’t so much about his performance but rather his role. Whitlock was in the bullpen last year as he worked his way back from Tommy John Surgery, but he was brought up in the Yankees system as a starter and has the control and pitch mix to be able to face an order two or three times. The Red Sox experimented with Whitlock in the rotation this spring but ultimately decided he would be best served in a versatile, multi-inning relief role.
Whether he is starting games or coming out of the bullpen, Whitlock should be a dominant force again in 2022. His advanced metrics showed he both induced soft contact and swings-and-misses at elite rates, and he does it all with plus control. He may not repeat the sub 2.00 ERA he posted last season, but there’s no reason to expect Whitlock to be anything other than the Red Sox’s most effective reliever.
Stat Predictions: 2.61 ERA, 2.4 BB/9, 10.8 K/9