Garrett Whitlock to bolster Red Sox bullpen upon return
The Red Sox had an incredible June that saw the team finish 20-6 and storm back in the standings. What they were able to do last month damn near erased the depression that was the beginning of this season. While some things are on the upswing, since the calendar flipped to July things have been an absolute nightmare. A continuing concern for this club is the bullpen as it’s been a wild ride all season but they’re about to get a big weapon back in the arsenal.
Earlier this past week there were some whispers that the Red Sox were contemplating moving Garrett Whitlock back to the bullpen when he returns from the IL. While speaking to the media yesterday, Alex Cora confirmed that not only would Whitlock be making his way back to the pen when he’s healthy but he’ll remain there for the rest of the season, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne.
This couldn’t come at a better time for the Red Sox as the bullpen has caused some serious headaches as of late. We all know of the implosions that have come since Opening Day but having it happen multiple times within the span of just a few days recently has it at everyone’s focus. We also know that Garrett is a much better reliever than a starter and having his lockdown arm at the end of the reliever list changes the tone for Boston going forward.
Boston’s bullpen isn’t a complete disaster as Tanner Houck, John Schreiber, and Matt Strahm can be counted on to get things done on a nightly basis. That’s also where the problem lies as everyone else is pretty much a coin flip on whether or not they’ll collapse on the mound and give the game away. Having the team’s best reliever back in the role that offered both him and the squad the best chance at success is the definition of a win-win.
"“He’s still a good pitcher regardless of it’s the first inning or the ninth inning but using him as a multi-inning weapon makes sense for where we are at and with the guys we have right now.”"
Having the ability to call on Whit for a couple of innings to end a close game and slam the door closed is going to give Cora so much wiggle room with his pitching order. First off, he won’t have to go to Tyler Danish or Hansel Robles in meaningful innings, which is a massive relief.
Now we can have a structure as AC lays into a bit in his comments about when he’d like to mix in Houck, Whitlock, and Schreiber. Being able to mix and match versus having to grit your teeth and call upon an unreliable arm should make life much easier for the skipper.
Seriously, if I never have to see Robles with the game on the line ever again it’ll be too soon. Some out there may look at this as the Red Sox admitting they didn’t do enough to bolster the bullpen, and they’re partially right.
Chaim Bloom needed to do much more than he did before the season to make the relief squad as strong as possible. This buys him time to work the Trade Deadline while also taking one of the team’s best young players and putting him in the best situation to succeed.
"“Yeah, it’s pretty similar to last year,” said Cora. “Obviously Tanner is doing what he’s doing. Schreibs is doing the same thing. There’s going to be days that they’re going to be down and [Whitlock] might come in and go [innings] eight and nine and finish it. Then he’ll get his two days and it gives everybody a blow in the bullpen.”"
As time goes on, Whit will absolutely be in the rotation. That’s always been the plan for him and I believe he’ll be in the rotation for the 2023 season. They tried to force it this season by keeping him there after the first trip to Toronto and it just hasn’t clicked. He’s been alright as a starter but nothing near the quality that he has on the mound when he comes in to finish off games. I’ll gladly take high-end reliever Garrett over mediocre starter Garrett every day and twice on Sunday.
This is the best move not only for the 2022 Red Sox but for Whitlock in this 2022 season. Pushing him to be a starter more than likely led to his current stint on the IL and with his injury history, they don’t need to add more chapters to that book. Adding him back to the bullpen, where he’s desperately needed, will help keep him healthy and help Boston put plenty more tallies in the win column.