It’s become easy to forget that Garrett Whitlock is in the midst of his first Major League Baseball season.
Whitlock, a Rule 5 draft pick by the Red Sox last December, has been an important piece of Boston’s bullpen from the get-go, and he’s yet to encounter any significant growing pains. Through 20 relief appearances (34 1/3 innings) on the campaign, the 21-year-old right-hander owns a 1.57 ERA and 1.194 WHIP, which rank first and second among Red Sox relievers, respectively.
Former Sox captain Jason Varitek has been on hand for the entirety of Whitlock’s MLB development thus far, and he seemingly has nothing but positives to say about the Georgia native.
“From day one in spring training, this young man has done nothing but impress,: Varitek said Sunday, per MassLive. “Keeps getting better. Keeps getting smarter. His game experiences are going to keep going up and that’s going to continue to match his stuff. He’s been able to make on-field adjustments with his breaking ball. He’s just been impressive. He steps up in there, no sweat. ‘Oh, I have to hit? OK. I?ll hit.’ And then the next time he hits, he gets a hit.”
Varitek continued: “It’s just been impressive. He does a good job in all aspects; our pace, our tempo, which we’ve pushed since early in spring training. You watch him, that’s first and foremost what he’s doing. And he’s attacking. He’s using all his pitches and he’s continuing to grow. He’s just been extremely impressive and he’s going to keep growing.”
Given the way the season has unfolded thus far, the Red Sox likely will find themselves in a tight division race through the first few days of October, and they’ll need all hands on deck from their pitching staff if they want to claim the American League East crown.
Boston likely will continue to call upon Whitlock in crucial situations moving forward, and we’ve yet to see anything to suggest he won’t be up to the task.