Red Sox pitcher Garrett Whitlock returned to the mound over the weekend against the Detroit Tigers for the first time in over a month due to an elbow injury. He pitched two innings, picking up the win with three strikeouts and zero earned runs.
It was also the first time he pitched out of the bullpen this season. Whitlock started 10 games prior to the injury, in which he had a 5.23 ERA.
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Though it’s a smaller sample size for Whitlock with one game as a reliever this season, the overall difference is similar to his 2022 performances. The 27-year-old appeared as a starter nine times and as a reliever 22 times, contributing 39 innings each of the roles. In the nine games as a starter, he had a 4.15 ERA, allowed 40 hits and struck out 38 batters. Out of the bullpen, he had a 2.75 ERA, allowed 25 hits and had 44 strikeouts.
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While the results show a clear disparity, Sean McAdam pointed out why it’s not that simple a choice for the organization on the latest Fenway Rundown podcast:
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“I think it’s what (the Red Sox) should do,” McAdam said of keeping Whitlock in the rotation. “Because despite the fact that he has performed historically far better out of the bullpen than he has as a member of rotation, to me, when you have a young pitcher with upside, you want to eliminate the possibility that he can contribute as a starter before you can consign him permanently to the bullpen. And they’ve got him under control for another four or five seasons with that deal that they had from 2022 to lock him up.
“I think they want to maximize his value. And despite, you can look at a relatively small sample size and say that in (19 career starts), it hasn’t clicked for him. It’s always more valuable to have a guy that can give you 175 innings and go every five days than a guy who can give you 75 innings over the course of the season.”
Whitlock signed a 4-year, $18.75 million deal with the Red Sox last year, with club options in 2027 and 2028, before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2029.
“While I think some of that decision going forward on Whitlock is going to be dependent on what else they do in the winter, and you and I have talked about the fact that they’re probably going to go after two, if not three, starting pitchers this winter,” McAdam said, “a lot of it may depend on who else is surrounding him.”