The Boston Red Sox have made it work, despite being without a plethora of players as COVID-19 recently tore through the roster. Hopefully the same goes for their next stretch where they’ll be without pitcher Garrett Whitlock.
The Rule 5 reliever was placed on Boston’s 10-day injured list after being pulled from Sunday’s game due to right pectoral tightness. Manager Alex Cora revealed to media Tuesday that the ailment isn’t thought to be serious and that he expects Whitlock to pitch again in the regular season.
Still, it’s a huge loss as the team grinds to qualify for the postseason.
So what does this mean for Boston’s bullpen, as no matter what, Whitlock won’t be able to play in a crucial series against the New York Yankees. Already, Cora was planning to get creative with use of their staff, sending Tanner Houck to the bullpen along with former starters Garrett Richards and Martín Pérez. Where Houck was supposed to be adding another option for extended relief, his responsibility grows even more.
It’s concerning considering Whitlock has anchored a bullpen that has exceeded most everyone’s expectations this year, and the 25-year-old has made a case for himself to be named the American League Rookie of the Year. Whitlock owns a 1.99 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings, proving himself time and time again in high-leverage situations.
But almost more important than other relievers rising to the occasion, Boston’s offense needs to continue its hot streak to carry the burden.
The Red Sox used five guys in relief after starter Eduardo Rodriguez went just 4 1/3 innings, and that’s not sustainable. Fortunately, the bats picked up the slack enough to win it 6-3, but early leads are going to be crucial in the next few weeks to earn starters some wiggle room.
Boston can be flexible with its pitching while they’re without Whitlock. And as long as the offense continues to carry the weight, this too shall pass.