The Rule 5 Draft pick has a 7-2 record with a 1.52 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 39 appearances this season. Whitlock has come up clutch in high-leverage situations during a time when the bullpen is depleted, overused and had seen Matt Barnes struggle in the closing role before testing positive for COVID-19.
With the Red Sox clinging to the second Wild Card spot in the AL, and just 1 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees for second place in the division, it’s fair to wonder whether Alex Cora will be more aggressive in using Whitlock.
“I got both Garrett’s going tonight, yeah,” Cora said Friday prior to Boston’s game against the Cleveland Indians. “… They’ll be ready. I think communication is very important because he’s never been through this. So honesty is part of the equation. Just because you want to post doesn’t mean you can post. He’s been very honest about it the last few weeks, and we take it day by day with him, how he feels and also thinking ahead. Like, he went two the other day, if we use him for one we might lose him for three. We start doing the math and if it makes sense for the group we’ll go with it.”
So at this point, it seems like it’s all strategy with using Whitlock, which certainly is a smart thing to do considering they are in crunch time with the season ending in four weeks — and the postseason still is realistic.