Red Sox

Garrett Whitlock has solid first rehab outing as return to Red Sox’ starting rotation nears

Whitlock pitched four innings with the Worcester Red Sox, giving up one run on six hits, one walk, and six strikeouts.

Garrett Whitlock could return to the Red Sox' starting rotation in just over a week. Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

Some needed pitching help could be on the way soon for the Red Sox following their 10-9 Opening Day loss to the Orioles.

Garrett Whitlock completed his first rehab assignment Friday, pitching for the Worcester Red Sox in their season opener.

The good news for the Red Sox was that Whitlock was in command of the strike zone, throwing 50 strikes on 75 pitches. He didn’t last as long though as originally expected. He pitched just four innings after being scheduled for five because he reached his pitch limit as he prepares to be a full-time starter for the first time in his MLB career.

Whitlock produced good results though in his four innings on the mound. Pitching against the New York Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, the Syracuse Mets, Whitlock gave up one run on six hits, one walk, and six strikeouts.


As the Red Sox are slow-playing Whitlock’s return following hip surgery last September, he’s working to build up his strength so he can enter Boston’s starting rotation soon.

“I’m building volume, trying to sharpen the tools,” Whitlock told reporters. “My spring training just started a little bit later than everyone else’s. Just treating this as another spring training outing and keep going.”

Whitlock’s sinker velocity topped out at 95 mph in the first inning but moved down to 91, 92 mph by his final inning of action, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reported. For reference, Whitlock’s average sinker speed last season was 95.3 mph, per Baseball Savant.

Whitlock thought one of his offspeed pitches worked well, though.

“It’s still just building the pitches up, continuing to work on everything and continue to sharpen the tools to be ready to go,” Whitlock said. “The backdoor slider was working really well. It’s just a matter of trying to get it glove side to righties or if I’m trying to back-foot it.”

The slider has been Whitlock’s third-most frequent pitch over his two seasons with the Red Sox, but brought a mixed bag of results. It was the pitch that Whitlock drew the best whiff percentage (45.8) and put-away percentage (28.9 percent) but opposing hitters went 16-for-52 (.308 average) with four home runs against it.


As Whitlock continues to work up his strength and pitches, he said “time will tell” if he feels ready to pitch in the majors, though he noted that his “stuff felt good” on Friday.

Whitlock will start the Portland Sea Dogs’ Opening Day game on Thursday and it will likely be his final rehab start before re-joining the Red Sox, manager Alex Cora told reporters Saturday.

Whitlock’s just one of three pitchers in the Red Sox’ expected starting rotation that began the season on the 15-day injured list. Brayan Bello and James Paxton are also on the injured list, but both are expected to re-join the team in the weeks after Whitlock’s return.

Whitlock went 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 39 innings and gave up 40 hits, nine walks, and had 38 strikeouts over nine starts last season.


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