In the midst of a midseason bullpen collapse and a COVID-19 outbreak with seven players testing positive for the virus along with three staff members, Garrett Whitlock has remained sturdy in his high leverage bullpen role.
“He’s been one of the best relievers in baseball,” said Sox lefty Chris Sale, who went six strong innings Wednesday in Boston’s 3-2 win over the Rays. “It’s pretty unbelievable. Honestly. His story, his path to the big-leagues, obviously having Tommy John, not pitching past Double-A, and now, he’s gotta be a lock for Rookie of The Year.”
Whitlock went two innings, allowing just two hits in his third straight scoreless outing. He picked up the win, moving to 7-2 on the season as he set up Adam Ottavino for the save.
“The guy’s been absolutely nails for us,” Sale added. “Being able to go out there and throw one inning, two innings, 2+, and do what he’s done, it’s alleviated a lot of pressure off of a lot of other guys. To be able to go out there and do what he’s done, throughout the entire year, he’s like auto-correct. As soon as he has a bad one, it’s boom — right on to the next one.”
The right-handed reliever was viewed by many as just some random guy who was picked up from the Yankees in the Rule 5 Draft. Even after the 25-year-old impressed in Spring Training, and likely would have made the team even if he wasn’t a Rule 5 pick, where it’s required to spend the full season on the roster, he likely would have made the major-league team.
It seems like Chaim Bloom has found a diamond in the rough, as Whitlock has been one of the best relievers in baseball and by far the best hurler on Boston’s staff. The righty 1.57 ERA and a 2.59 FIP across 38 outings (63 innings), and has appeared in some of the most high leverage situations a team could ask for.
Prior to this season, he had never pitched above Double-A.
“That’s impressive to see from anybody from anywhere, age-wise, years in the league what not, but a young guy doing what he had to do makes it a lot more impressive,” Sale said.
Whitlock was picked up by the Red Sox in the Rule 5, which is a draft in which players who are not on the 40-man roster can be selected. But, there’s a twist. As mentioned before, the player has to stay in the majors the entire season, adding quite the element of risk in the draft.
(Photo of Garrett Whitlock by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)