In a one-run game against a team he’s faced once before, Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora was taking a gamble by putting the ball in the hand of Rule 5 reliever Garrett Whitlock.
It paid off, though, and he helped the Red Sox tack on to their lead.
The righty bridged the gap after starter Eduardo Rodriguez made his first start in 18 months. Whitlock threw the sixth and seventh innings, retiring all three batters in each with three strikeouts. He used 20 pitches between six batters, and 15 were thrown for strikes.
However, it was something unrelated to that which really showed Red Sox manager Alex Cora the confidence Whitlock is possessing.
“You see it, like wow, he belongs right? The tempo, the conviction,” Cora said on a postgame video conference. “Most of the time, Rule 5 guys don’t shake off your catcher, right? But he knows what he wants to do and he does, he shakes his off and he goes through the pitches he feels is right in that situation.
“He’s been great for us. We still have to be careful, you know, this is not what he’s used to, but we do believe his stuff will play,” Cora continued. “This is the second time they’ve seen him and you saw the swings, so. We’re comfortable with him, and that was a situation where we were down, we get the lead, he was hot, so why not? We needed him and he did an outstanding job.”
Whitlock, 24, was left off the New York Yankee’s 40-man roster after undergoing Tommy John surgery in July 2019 and missed 2020. The Red Sox acquired him this offseason in the Rule 5 draft.