Garrett Whitlock was absolutely sensational in his first career major-league start for the Red Sox on Saturday night.
Working on three days rest and in front of his family against the Rays at Tropicana Field, the right-hander yielded just one hit and no walks to go along with seven strikeouts over four scoreless innings.
After retiring each of the first nine batters he faced, Whitlock took a perfect game into the fourth inning before giving up a leadoff double to Brandon Lowe. He then stranded Lowe at second base by sitting down the likes of Wander Franco, Randy Arozarena, and Ji-Man Choi in order to get through four shutout frames.
Of the 48 pitches Whitlock threw on Saturday, 33 went for strikes. The 25-year-old threw 28 sinkers, 12 changeups, and eight sliders. He induced a total of seven swings-and-misses while topping out at 97.8 mph with his sinking fastball.
The Red Sox elected to have Whitlock start on Saturday in order to fill in for Rich Hill, who had his start pushed back to Sunday after spending time away from the team while on the bereavement list.
Since his last outing came on April 19, Whitlock was stretched out to throw three to four innings and he certainly did his job in an efficient manner there by averaging 12 pitches per inning.
While Boston has mainly used Whitlock as a reliever since acquiring him from the Yankees in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, the club undoubtedly views the righty as a starting pitcher in the long-term.
When the Sox signed Whitlock to a four-year, $18.75 million contract extension earlier this month, they did so while including escalators based on the number of innings he pitches in the future.
As far as when Whitlock’s next start will come, that much remains unclear. The Red Sox could very well have the hard-throwing hurler start against the Blue Jays in Toronto next week, or perhaps they will move him back to the bullpen for the remainder of their three-city road trip.
(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Mike Carlson/Getty Images)