Will Garrett Whitlock return to bullpen after IL stint? Cora explains originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Garrett Whitlock is moving closer to his much-anticipated return from the injured list. The question is whether he’ll return to the Boston Red Sox rotation or if he’ll revert back to his relief role.
There’s no doubt the Red Sox could use Whitlock’s presence in the bullpen right about now. They’re coming off a crushing walk-off loss to the Toronto Blue Jays highlighted by the absence of right-hander Tanner Houck, who couldn’t travel to Canada due to his vaccination status. Relievers Tyler Danish and Hansel Robles were called upon instead and couldn’t hold on to the lead in the ninth inning, leading to a 6-5 defeat.
The uncertainty at the closer spot leads some to believe Whitlock should return to the bullpen, where he’s thrived thus far in his MLB career. The 26-year-old righty boasts a 0.93 ERA and 0.62 WHIP as a reliever this season. He’s 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in his nine starts.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora hasn’t yet decided where to put Whitlock, who’s been on the IL since June 10 with right hip inflammation. He did acknowledge the bullpen is a possibility.
“We’re talking about it. Obviously health has to do with it,” Cora said during his weekly interview on WEEI’s “Merloni, Fauria & Mego”. “There’s different thoughts, of course. Going back to the bullpen is one of them.”
Moving Whitlock back to his relief role makes even more sense with Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale and James Paxton all likely returning to the Red Sox rotation in the next month. Whitlock threw a bullpen session on Wednesday, so Cora and the Red Sox will have to make a decision sooner rather than later.