“I’ve really got to step it up.”
Garrett Whitlock’s 2023 season consisted of elbow injuries and disappointing outings. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
Garrett Whitlock was candid when talking about his third season with the Red Sox.
At the Red Sox’s Winter Weekend event in Springfield, Mass., Whitlock spoke to reporters about how disappointing 2023 was for him.
“I think I was the worst guy on the roster last year,” Whitlock said on Saturday. “I’ve really got to step it up.”
The 27-year-old pitcher bounced between the Red Sox’s starting rotation and bullpen for the second consecutive season while battling elbow injuries. Whitlock found himself on the injured list for 59 combined games with right elbow irritation and inflammation throughout the season.
When he was healthy, Whitlock was unreliable on the mound. The righty owned a 5.15 earned run average over nine starts and 22 relief outings. Whitlock pitched 71 ⅔ innings and collected a career-low 72 strikeouts, plus a career-high average of 1.3 walks and hits per inning pitched.
Fortunately, he will have an opportunity to redeem himself in 2024. Chief baseball officer Craig Breslow recently told The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham he expects Whitlock to compete with Tanner Houck and Josh Winckowski for the fifth spot in the team’s rotation.
With the Red Sox hiring Andrew Bailey as its new pitching coach this offseason, perhaps a fresh set of eyes can help bring Whitlock back to his old form.
Whether it was out of the bullpen or every fifth day, the version of Whitlock Red Sox fans saw in 2021 and 2022 was dominant. He owned a 2.7 ERA in his first two big league seasons after the Red Sox selected him in the Rule 5 draft from the Yankees in 2020. Whitlock tossed 68 appearances out of the bullpen and nine as a starter to that point.
Alex Cora told us last night, “Wait ’til you see Whit.” He wasn’t joking.
Garrett Whitlock gained plenty of muscle during the offseason, getting back in the gym a week after the season ended.
Called himself “the worst player on the team” in 2023.
The righty is ready for 2024.
— Tim Crowley (@tcrowley37) January 20, 2024
The Red Sox seemed determined to transform him into a starter in 2023 by giving him the ball 10 times every fifth day out of his 32 outings. It appears the organization wants to give Whitlock another shot in the rotation this season, too.
He appears to have been focused on adding muscle over the winter in preparation for a bounce-back season. Multiple reporters said Whitlock is visibly larger and more muscular compared to the last time they saw him. What that means for his future outings remains to be seen, but he seems ready to rebound in 2024.
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