The Red Sox need to put Garrett Whitlock back in the bullpen as soon as Rich Hill returns. But let’s stop fooling ourselves: Garrett Whitlock will not cure the Red Sox’ bullpen struggles. He just won’t.
Garrett Whitlock Isn’t Closing
Whitlock will not magically become the shutdown reliever the Red Sox need who pitches three or four days in a row. He had four days of rest three times between his first five appearances and three days of rest once. If reinserted into the bullpen, the 25-year-old pitching phenom would likely be in the same role as before and thus would not be available every time the Red Sox needed him.
Great, Garrett Whitlock is a reliever again. What do the Red Sox do for the three to four games between his appearances? The Red Sox did win three of four games in which Whitlock appeared out of the bullpen; however, they lost the three other games in which he did not appear.
Whitlock could have helped stabilize a few of those games, but do we really believe Garrett Whitlock alone would make the Red Sox bullpen that much better to get Boston within a few games of .500? With such an anemic offense? I don’t. Regardless, the Red Sox still need a shutdown arm because, as mentioned, Whitlock is not pitching every day.
Red Sox Bullpen Needs More Than Garrett Whitlock
Boston’s lack of a shutdown reliever is Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom’s fault. Bloom relied too heavily on a Matt Barnes comeback, and Barnes is helping no one by being on the roster. A few of the losses attributed to the bullpen are solely on Barnes. And Why is Kutter Crawford still here? He hasn’t pitched in over a week. That’s two roster spots that acquisitions of some sort, either internal or external, could fill. And what are the Red Sox doing with Tanner Houck? Start him or make him your setup/closer guy. Pick one. He’s too wild for anything else.
The Red Sox are in a tough spot for an early-season trade. Teams will drive up their asking price if the Red Sox act too soon because they know Boston is desperate. It’s a fine line. It might be better to have Houck in the same one-to-two inning high leverage role the Red Sox had Garrett Whitlock in by the end of last season but use Houck as more of a closer.
It will take more than Garrett Whitlock to stabilize the late innings for the Red Sox.