Boston Red Sox: Garrett Whitlock shows his potential as a starting pitcher

Boston Red Sox pitcher Garrett Whitlock (72) Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Red Sox pitcher Garrett Whitlock (72) Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox decided to start Garrett Whitlock for the first time in 2022 against the Tampa Bay Rays and he provided an early answer on potentially joining the starting rotation. It was an emphatic, awwwwwww … yeeeeaaaahhhhh!

Whitlock spun a masterful four innings of work against the Rays’ lineup, allowing just one hit and zero runs. He also fanned seven Rays in the process. Whether Whitlock, whose value as a reliever is immense, should start or not was the subject of some discussion heading into the season.

After his dominating performance against Tampa Bay, some of those questions have been at least partially answered. Yet, let’s not get carried away here. It is just one start after all.

Garret Whitlock is the gift that keeps on giving for the Boston Red Sox

Since joining the Boston Red Sox as a Rule 5 draft pick from the New York Yankees prior to the 2021 season, Whitlock has been a revelation. He went 8-4 last season with an impressive 1.96 ERA. This season, he’s been even better.

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Whitlock is currently sporting a “sick” ERA of 0.66 in his first five outings of the season including the start against the Rays. His other metrics are equally impressive. Opposing batters are sporting a paltry .142 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .196. That’s an OPS of .341. His WHIP is an uncanny 0.512. These statistics are all mind-boggling, even if just over a five outing stretch.

How Whitlock could possibly top his first season with Boston, which was simply superb, is hard to fathom, but he’s on his way to doing just that.

Though the thought was maybe a start of 5-6 innings, that proved to be unrealistic. Bench coach Will Venable (who is filling in for Alex Cora while he deals with a bout of COVID) rightly shut the jack-of-all-trades down after four stellar innings. That was prudent decision-making by the manager who’s a favorite in this space. He knows what to do when. had this to say about Whitlock’s innings and his start,

"Whitlock was not stretched out enough to go more than 4 innings. He threw 28 two-seam fastballs, topping out at 97.8 mph and averaging 95.7 mph, per Baseball Savant. Statcast had him for 12 changeups and eight sliders."

They also pointed out that five of the first six batters he saw were whiffed by the 26-year-old. It may be an understatement to say the Yankees did the Sox a huge favor by making Whitlock available last season in the Rule 5 Draft.

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Kudos have to go to Boston Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer, Chaim Bloom. Bloom’s savvy move on Whitlock has to be his best during his short tenure leading Boston’s front office. There have been a lot of solid moves for Bloom, but acquiring Whitlock has to top the list. That he was a gift from the Yankees makes it all the better for Bloom, the team, and for Sox fans.

Ian Browne of wrote about the start and cited Whitlock’s teammate, Trevor Story, who commented on the young pitcher’s outing in Tampa Bay,

"Every time the Rays blinked, they were behind in the count. In fact, anyone who did blink might have missed the bottom of the third inning, in which Whitlock threw six pitches.“He’s amazing. Just attacking,” said Story. “That’s why he’s him. He’s a really good pitcher and I’m glad he’s on our side.”"

He certainly has been amazing, and who doesn’t like a pitcher who goes right after hitters. Hopefully, it is just the beginning of an illustrious starting career. Add Whitlock to a starting rotation featuring Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha, Tanner Houck, and maybe Chris Sale and/or James Paxton later on in the season, and the potential is there for the Red Sox to roll out a starting rotation no team will be looking to face.

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It was a great first start by Whitlock that has to be followed by a great big thank you to the New York Yankees. From Boston to the Big Apple, we thank you. You might even say that “a star is born”.  We’ll see about that. Yet, let’s say again, as fighter pilot Maverick once said in the movie, Top Gun, “… it’s looking good so far”.