The Boston Red Sox are going to take their top arm in the bullpen and use him as a starter on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Red Sox bench coach Will Venable, who is serving as acting manager since Alex Cora tested positive for COVID-19, told reporters prior to Friday night’s series opener that Garrett Whitlock will get the start on the mound in the middle matchup of the three-game set, according to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams.
For Whitlock, who has been utilized exclusively out of the bullpen since joining Boston last season, it will be his first career start. A spot in the rotation opened up with Rich Hill currently on bereavement leave, but Hill will be back to start the final game of the series with the Rays on Sunday.
Whitlock has been dynamite out of the bullpen in his year-plus with the Red Sox. In 9 2/3 innings pitched this season, Whitlock has posted a microscopic 0.93 earned run average to go along with 11 strikeouts and one save.
If Whitlock can be just as effective as a starter, it will be interesting to see if Boston will keep Whitlock in the rotation or move him back into the bullpen. Whitlock’s biggest workload this season was a four-inning outing against the Detroit Tigers in which he threw 39 pitches.
Whitlock and the Red Sox take on the Rays on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. ET, and you can catch the game along with an hour of pregame coverage on NESN.