Garrett Whitlock can cement his Red Sox future tonight in Anaheim
The Red Sox have a serious crop of young talent that have the fan base buzzing not just for the now but for what’s coming down the road. One of the biggest names on that list is Garrett Whitlock. While we already know what we have with the righty, for the most part, his new role definitely opens some doors for the future. If he can continue this stretch of quality starts and keep the opposition quiet once again, he would’ve more than locked up his spot in my eyes.
Going into this season the biggest discussion was Boston’s pitching and how it needed to be addressed. While Chaim Bloom did what he does best and signed some checks for a group of low-risk/low-reward arms, it’s been paying off. Rich Hill and especially Michael Wacha have both been far better than any of us could’ve expected, but it’s Whitlock that has most of the light shining on him.
The righty was a Bloom steal from the 2020 Rule-5 Draft and has not disappointed. He was one of the most dominant relievers in all of baseball in 2021 and his 1.6 WAR netted him a 16th place finish on the season.
His 1.96 ERA was the eighth-best in all of baseball for bullpen arms and he also amassed a 9.94 K/9 to a 2.09 BB/9. The best part? He did all of that in a significantly less amount of games compared to his counterparts in the league.
Whitlock started this season as a long reliever but losing out on some players due to COVID restrictions forced the Red Sox to shift him back to the rotation. Garrett was initially drafted by the Yankees to be a starter but they gave up on him after he needed Tommy John, enter Bloom. Chaim robbed the Yanks and turned Whit into what we saw in 2021, but the plan was always there for him to revert back to being a starter.
Alex Cora has been very cautious with his young starter and has kept him on a bit of an inning limit but it feels like that tide has turned as of late. Through his eight starts this season, Whit has only been allowed to go beyond the fifth inning twice, both of which were his last two appearances. In fact, we saw what looked like two very different pitchers in those outings and it gives me even more excited for his future.
In one, he was carving up batters and sending ’em down one after another. On the other, he didn’t strike out a single opposing batter but used great pitch placement and selection to keep the basepaths empty en route to a win. While he’s been so strong since putting on that Red Sox uniform, seeing what he did in his last start really showed what kind of pitcher he is.
Things aren’t guaranteed for him going forward as Boston has both Chris Sale and James Paxton returning in the near future. We also have to account for how well everyone else in the rotation is pitching right now. Nate Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta aren’t going anywhere, and Wacha is as much of a lock as you can get.
This leaves Hill and Whitlock and only one can stay. If it were me, I’m moving Hill to the pen and keeping the youngster in the rotation while adding Sale. Paxton will most likely see the bullpen as well since he’s returning from Tommy John. While I wanted Whitlock back in relief as soon as possible and thought it was a mistake removing him from the bullpen, I can’t deny what he’s done on the mound in his new position.
Another strong outing tonight against a very dangerous Angels offense could fully lock him into the starting rotation. This Red Sox team is humming right now, and while I absolutely won’t say it, I’m loving the vibes of this squad. Whitlock is a big factor in what we’re seeing and can continue to be a driving force in turning this season around in the second half. Tonight may just be another June start, for Garrett, it can be a message sent.