When Garrett Whitlock returns to the Boston Red Sox, it’ll be in the role that he rose to prominence in.
Whitlock has been out since June 7 as he deals with a right hip injury. At the time of the injury, the Red Sox had been using him as a starter, but last season and parts of this season he found success as an Andrew Miller-type reliever who can go for multiple, high-leverage innings.
Although Whitlock came up as a starter, that relief role suits him well. And in expounding on why the Red Sox are putting him back in the bullpen, manager Alex Cora also clarified what Whitlock’s role will be during his weekly appearance on “Merloni, Fauria & Mego”.
“There’s a few things coming up,” Cora said. “Nate (Eovaldi) will be back and Chris (Sale) is going to be part of the rotation. I think physically, right now, (the bullpen is) the best fit for Garrett.
"He gets hurt and now it’s hard to stretch him out. And with Nate coming back and Chris, I think it’s easier to do this and I think it’s gonna help the bullpen. One thing with him, it’s not going to be in the same role as Tanner (Houck), like a short one inning a game. With Garrett, it’s more similar to last year, two innings, maybe three. If he goes two, he gets two days off, if he goes three, he gets three days off. I think for his situation where he’s at physically, it’s a lot better going this way."
It’s a moot point right now, but it is fair to wonder if the Red Sox were always planning to put him back in the bullpen, or if it is just made easier now because of Sale and Eovaldi’s looming returns.
A specific date has not been set for Whitlock to return, but clearly it’s getting close if the Red Sox already have a specific role mapped out.