Garrett Whitlock will start for the Red Sox in Thursday’s series finale against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, the team announced earlier Monday evening.
The Sox are without one of their starters for this four-game set in Toronto after placing Tanner Houck on the restricted list due to his unvaccinated status. Houck was in line to start on Thursday, but is not eligible to travel to Canada on account of the country’s rules for entry.
Because of this, a spot in Boston’s rotation opened up and it unsurprisingly goes to Whitlock, who will follow Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, and Michael Wacha by taking the mound on Thursday.
Whitlock was absolutely dominant in the first start of his big-league career against the Rays on Saturday. Working on three days rest, the right-hander allowed just one hit and no walks to go along with seven strikeouts across four scoreless innings at Tropicana Field. 33 of the 48 pitches he threw went for strikes.
Although the Red Sox have primarily used Whitlock as a reliever since acquiring him from the Yankees in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, it is quite apparent that the club views the 25-year-old hurler as a starter in the long-term.
The four-year, $18.75 million contract extension Whitlock signed with Boston earlier this month includes escalators based on the number of innings he pitches in the future. It can also max out at $44.5 million over six years beginning in 2023.
Including Saturday’s start, Whitlock has posted a miniscule 0.66 ERA and 1.84 FIP with 18 strikeouts to two walks through his first five appearances (13 2/3 innings pitched) of the season. Last year, the righty made one appearance in Toronto on August 7 and struck out three over two scoreless frames of relief.
Considering that he will be pitching on a conventional four days rest come Thursday afternoon, it should be interesting to see how deep the Red Sox allow Whitlock to pitch into the game if he is as effective as he was over the weekend.
On the other side of things, Alek Manoah — who also made his major-league debut last season — is slated to oppose Whitlock and make his fourth start of 2022 for the Blue Jays.
(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)