At this time one year ago, Garrett Whitlock was still a member of the Yankees organization.
While still recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent the previous July, Whitlock — then a prospect — was left off the Yankees’ 40-man roster as the November 20 deadline to add eligible minor-leaguers came and went.
As a result, Whitlock was to be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft the following month. And despite only having pitched 70 1 /3 innings above the High-A level since being drafted in 2017, the right-hander was scooped up by the Red Sox in said draft on December 10.
Fast forward 10 month later, and Whitlock was presented with the opportunity to end his former team’s 2021 season on the biggest of stages under the bright lights at Fenway Park.
After putting together a fantastic rookie season in which he posted a 1.96 ERA, 2.84 FIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 81-17 over 46 relief appearances spanning 73 1/3 frames of work, Whitlock was called upon in the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s Wild Card Game against the Yankees.
Having just been activated from the 10-day injured list two days prior, the 25-year-old hurler was tasked by Red Sox manager Alex Cora to record the final three outs of the night.
Working with a five-run lead to protect while taking over for Hansel Robles, Whitlock got the first batter he faced in Aaron Judge to ground out to Xander Bogaerts at shortstop.
He then yielded a solo shot to Giancarlo Stanton that cut New York’s deficit to four runs, but bounced back by retiring Joey Gallo and Gleyber Torres in order to put the finishing touches on a 6-2 Wild Card victory for the Red Sox.
In closing things out on just eight pitches (seven strikes) in the top of the ninth, not only did Whitlock send the Sox to the American League Division Series; he eliminated the Yankees from the postseason as well.
For as humble as he is, it’s unlikely Whitlock would say anything about Tuesday’s win meaning more since it sent his former team home packing. Still, as a competitor, there has to be some level of gratification upon successfully dashing the hopes of the organization that essentially gave up on you not too long ago.
(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)