Garrett Whitlock

Wither Whitlock?

  • In the rotation

  • In the bullpen


Results are only viewable after voting.

OCD SS

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So much of the discussion other threads come down to Whitlock returning to the 'pen or staying in the rotation for '22. Where does SoSH think he belongs now?

The argument for him returning to the 'pen assumes his innings will still be highly managed, but that he will take up the same role as last year and stabilize what has otherwise seemed to be a disaster as the Sox drop close games late. His innings for this season would be higher leverage.

Keeping him in the rotation assumes that he is destined for the rotation eventually, and puts him directly on that development path. His innings will be easier to manage, and he will get used to a starter's routine. He should also develop against tougher competition as he'll be seeing more of the opposition's best hitters starting at the top of the lineup.
 

BringBackMo

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I’ve read that they’ll probably cap him at around 140 innings this year. He’s at 25 right now so another 115 or so left if this speculation is sound. Assuming 5 or 6 IP per start that would be in the range of 20 starts. Let’s keep him in the rotation. There are arms in the minors that could develop into bullpen reinforcements over the coming months, and it’s easier to find relievers than starters on the trade market if they want to go that route.
 

Niastri

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Even with the reduced usage of starting pitching the last few years, a good starting pitcher is among the most valuable players in baseball. If they think Whitlock had even a small chance of turning into the next Max Scherzer or Chris Sale they have to develop him that way. His talents are wasted long term in the bullpen.
 

Mugsy's Jock

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I voted bullpen having been scarred by seeing Matt Barnes and Jake Diekman run out there day after day... but reading the four more rational posts above, I change my mind.

Above all, baby the ever-living fuck out of him. Protect health at all costs. He's so important to the medium-term health of the franchise.
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

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I voted in the bullpen, but only if he gets the high leverage situations regardless of where that falls during the game. If he’s just going to slot into a closer/setup role, I’d rather him be a starter.
 

Back Bay

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Bullpen guys are starters who fail. Let's see what a season of Whilock as a starter looks like before yanking him from it.
 

BaseballJones

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Bullpen guys are starters who fail. Let's see what a season of Whilock as a starter looks like before yanking him from it.
The bolder simply isn’t true anymore. I mean in some cases sure but many guys are being groomed as bullpen studs in college now, not because they can’t start but because they’re elite weapons that can be used multiple days in a week.

That said I agree - let him go as a starter until he shows he can’t do it. Unless he could be a decent starter and an absolutely elite and durable reliever.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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If Schreiber is real and he could take over the 9th/high leverage role then having Whitlock in the 'pen would be totally unnecessary.

6.1 IP / 6K / 3H

Three out of his five appearances have been in the 8th or later and he looked pretty impressive last night earning the save. 20 / 26 pitches for strikes, 3K, set down Acuna and Olson on strikes to finish the game.
 

BaseballJones

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Looking at b-ref right now... the bullpen ERAs are really good except for Barnes and Kutter. I think they’ve just had to do so much and cover so many innings that they’re bound to blow some games.

51505
 

ehaz

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This is easy for me. Give Whitlock every opportunity to start this season. Moving him to the bullpen right now isn't going to change this team into a playoff team.
 

Coachster

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I voted to keep him in the rotation. There seems to be a lot of magical thinking on SoSH that Sale and Paxton will ascend off the IL and immediately produce stellar results. Folks, if they EVER get here (and with their recent setbacks I have some doubts about that) , it'll be for the 3-inning/50 pitch 'start' that will continue to tax our bullpen well into August.

If Whitlock can continue to be stretched out (and be more efficient; last night he was pretty bad- 50 pitches through 2 innings) he'll be an actual starter, something we really don't have in the minors or the pen.
 

tims4wins

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If they're never going to allow him a third time through the order, I prefer him in the pen, permanently.

If they think he can be more of an elite SP that they actually allow to go 6+ IP and 100 pitches, then sure, I want him starting.

I voted pen because I think the former is more likely than the latter.
 
Jul 16, 2005
38
If they're never going to allow him a third time through the order, I prefer him in the pen, permanently.

If they think he can be more of an elite SP that they actually allow to go 6+ IP and 100 pitches, then sure, I want him starting.

I voted pen because I think the former is more likely than the latter.
Nothing wrong with a hybrid role for the time being. Personally, I think he should be a starter.
 

radsoxfan

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Nothing wrong with a hybrid role for the time being. Personally, I think he should be a starter.
Long term, nothing wrong with managing his innings as a starter for now on the way to eventual full-time starter. Huge value there if it works out.

If they want to maximize his value for the 2022 team, Whitlock's 4 innings every 5 games could probably be better utilized in the pen. Depends what the goal is.
 

Max Power

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Long term, nothing wrong with managing his innings as a starter for now on the way to eventual full-time starter. Huge value there if it works out.

If they want to maximize his value for the 2022 team, Whitlock's 4 innings every 5 games could probably be better utilized in the pen. Depends what the goal is.
I think the goal is to get him to throw 6 innings every 5 games by being more efficient. It didn't work out very well yesterday, but that's where you'd like to get by the end of the year.

If you want to be careful with a pitcher, then putting them in the rotation is the best way to do it. Pitchers can throw 200 innings a year for 20 years if they do it on a regular schedule and don't have too many high stress innings along the way. There have been many fewer relivers who have successfully thrown even 70 innings a year for half that time. If you're looking to the future, low stress and regular rest are the goals, and you get those as a starter.
 

Ganthem

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I saw that he pitched to 80ish pitches last night. I wonder if his next start is when Cora will take the brakes off and let him go 100 pitches. If that equates to five innings or nine, Cora will let it ride. I will also say the best thing that could happen to the bullpen is that Cora stops embracing the failed philosophy of not allowing starters to go through the order three times. If more starters are going six or seven innings, that will expose the bullpen less. It will allow the relievers who are getting it done, to get the bulk of the work and it will prevent the bullpen from being worn out.
 

chawson

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I saw that he pitched to 80ish pitches last night. I wonder if his next start is when Cora will take the brakes off and let him go 100 pitches. If that equates to five innings or nine, Cora will let it ride. I will also say the best thing that could happen to the bullpen is that Cora stops embracing the failed philosophy of not allowing starters to go through the order three times. If more starters are going six or seven innings, that will expose the bullpen less. It will allow the relievers who are getting it done, to get the bulk of the work and it will prevent the bullpen from being worn out.
There’s no way Cora is the chief organizational proponent of this philosophy, and Boston is hardly the only smart team to adopt it (in some cases).

There are certainly some pitchers who can handle facing a lineup three times. Eovaldi is one — though the knock on him when we traded for him was that he couldn’t. But the philosophy is backed by pretty solid research. It also makes intuitive sense that there are tiers of good pitchers who tire more easily than others, yet are not so ineffective that they should be relegated to one-inning bullpen duty.

Can you offer evidence why its “failed”?
 

YTF

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I saw that he pitched to 80ish pitches last night. I wonder if his next start is when Cora will take the brakes off and let him go 100 pitches. If that equates to five innings or nine, Cora will let it ride. I will also say the best thing that could happen to the bullpen is that Cora stops embracing the failed philosophy of not allowing starters to go through the order three times. If more starters are going six or seven innings, that will expose the bullpen less. It will allow the relievers who are getting it done, to get the bulk of the work and it will prevent the bullpen from being worn out.
I wouldn't expect to see 100 pitches out of Whitlock any time soon even in a 5 inning scenario unless Cora has a greater need to stay away from the pen than usual. If he's at or near 100 pitches in five innings he's not likely to be pitching well. We know that there is a desire to manage his innings, but in today's game that often translates to pitch limits. I do agree that we do need to see pitchers go a bit deeper into games. Some of these early hooks with low pitch counts with are so hard to comprehend. There have been several instances where the starter is out of the game early while averaging 10-11 pitches per inning with a lead or the game tied only to be followed by 5-6 pitchers out of the pen resulting in a loss.
 

Just a bit outside

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This team is not good so give him a chance to start and see what happens. If they were decent I think it would be better for the team to have him in the bullpen but that doesn't seem likely this year.
 

Ganthem

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There’s no way Cora is the chief organizational proponent of this philosophy, and Boston is hardly the only smart team to adopt it (in some cases).

There are certainly some pitchers who can handle facing a lineup three times. Eovaldi is one — though the knock on him when we traded for him was that he couldn’t. But the philosophy is backed by pretty solid research. It also makes intuitive sense that there are tiers of good pitchers who tire more easily than others, yet are not so ineffective that they should be relegated to one-inning bullpen duty.

Can you offer evidence why its “failed”?
Perhaps my statement was too broad. I think that a philosophy adopted by a team needs to, in a sense, keep in mind the strengths and weaknesses of a team. Since one of Boston's biggest weaknesses currently is the bullpen, it makes sense to allow the starters to go through the lineup three times, rather then bring in the bullpen. To put it another way, I trust most of our starters to go through the lineup a third time and produce outs, then I trust most of our relievers to do the same. Lastly you need to have a decent amount of depth. The more you depend on the bullpen, the more the bullpen will be burnt out, unless you are rotating fresh arms in. I am not sure the Sox have those fresh arms to rotate in and out.
 

Daniel_Son

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100% put him in the rotation along with Houck. He's most valuable to us as a starter.

I wonder if the Sox should consider a 6-man rotation given the IP limits on Whitlock (and Houck, to a lesser extent).

Current
  1. Eovaldi
  2. Whitlock
  3. Hill
  4. Houck
  5. Pivetta

When Wacha Returns
  1. Eovaldi
  2. Wacha
  3. Whitlock
  4. Hill
  5. Houck
  6. Pivetta
This, of course, gets complicated once Sale/Paxton return, and if Hill/Wacha are still pitching well. One or two of those guys will need to move to the pen, but who?
  • I'd rather not have it be Houck/Whitlock for their development as long-term SP options.
  • Pivetta for the same reason - he hasn't been great this year, but he's young, cost-controlled, and we have him through 2025 (for better or for worse)
 

begranter

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To provide some color on the other side, I voted reliever for a couple of reasons.
First, I see having a guy like Whitlock that can go anywhere between 1-3 innings making it much easier to navigate games where a starter hands off a lead to a win. On Saturday a friend pointed out that a third of all games to that point had included blown saves by the Red Sox. That's an astonishing amount of wins left on the table by a leaky bullpen. I think that role is more valuable and allows Cora to lean on a team strength to secure more wins.
Second, I would love for him to be a traditional 6-9 inning starter, but that's a dying role in the MLB. I think in 10 years' time, maybe even 5, the majority of teams will have "bullpen days" more often than traditional starting pitchers. As much as I appreciate the traditionalism of the defined roles in baseball, that mindset is dying. I wouldn't make this decision based on what has been perceived as more valuable historically.
Third, correlation or causation, the metrics are clear -- pitchers are less effective when facing a batter for the 3rd time in a game. I'm sure this is a large piece of why teams' approaches are evolving regarding starters. Save for very few pitchers with multiple elite pitches, this is a key input into any strategy. Whitlock may be one of those guys, but with 3 (albeit very good) pitches I think it's unlikely.

Tangential but honest question, what was the last true pitchers' duel you can remember? The only examples I can think of are in the playoffs, so as a secondary cut same question but regular season?
 

Max Power

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Tangential but honest question, what was the last true pitchers' duel you can remember? The only examples I can think of are in the playoffs, so as a secondary cut same question but regular season?
That's a good question. Since the start of 2019 there have been 4 regular season games where both starters threw at least 8 innings. I'm not a Stathead subscriber so I don't know what games they were, but they're more rare than no hitters.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Perhaps my statement was too broad. I think that a philosophy adopted by a team needs to, in a sense, keep in mind the strengths and weaknesses of a team. Since one of Boston's biggest weaknesses currently is the bullpen, it makes sense to allow the starters to go through the lineup three times, rather then bring in the bullpen. To put it another way, I trust most of our starters to go through the lineup a third time and produce outs, then I trust most of our relievers to do the same. Lastly you need to have a decent amount of depth. The more you depend on the bullpen, the more the bullpen will be burnt out, unless you are rotating fresh arms in. I am not sure the Sox have those fresh arms to rotate in and out.
Thing is, you kinda need starters capable of going through the lineup a third time as well. I think some of the issue so far this year is the lack of a proper spring training so most teams, not just the Red Sox, haven't gotten everyone up to speed where they're able to go 100+ pitches when necessary. Obviously that just compounds the problem if you don't have the depth in the bullpen.

I posted this in Sunday's game thread so it's a few days out of date now, but the point still holds. The notion of the Red Sox (or even Tampa-rooted teams) being the only team(s) holding their starters to short leashes and low pitch counts is incorrect.

Teams with the most starts of fewer than 80 pitches and their average innings per start (league average = 4.9):
Twins = 19 (4.8)
Orioles = 18 (4.3)
Rays = 18 (4.0)
Diamondbacks = 16 (4.8)
Red Sox = 16 (4.8)
Cubs = 16 (4.2)
Pirates = 16 (4.2)
Rangers = 16 (4.3)
Reds = 15 (3.9)
Angels = 13 (5.1)
Dodgers = 13 (5.2)

For the season, there have been only 39 instances of any starting pitcher exceeding 100 pitches in a game. Only one team has had more than 3 (Padres with 5), the Red Sox have had two (both Eovaldi), and nine teams have yet to have it happen at all.
 

Ganthem

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Thing is, you kinda need starters capable of going through the lineup a third time as well. I think some of the issue so far this year is the lack of a proper spring training so most teams, not just the Red Sox, haven't gotten everyone up to speed where they're able to go 100+ pitches when necessary. Obviously that just compounds the problem if you don't have the depth in the bullpen.

I posted this in Sunday's game thread so it's a few days out of date now, but the point still holds. The notion of the Red Sox (or even Tampa-rooted teams) being the only team(s) holding their starters to short leashes and low pitch counts is incorrect.
I guess the question is, at what point does the bullpen become such a liability that you throw caution to the wind and just ramp your starters up. The season is pretty much over so it is a moot point, but I would have liked to see this particular philosophy abandoned, when the Sox bullpen was blowing games left and right and the Sox still were in contention. I will concede that even if Cora had started to let the starters go longer, it might not have mattered given that the main problem with this team is the offense.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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That's a good question. Since the start of 2019 there have been 4 regular season games where both starters threw at least 8 innings. I'm not a Stathead subscriber so I don't know what games they were, but they're more rare than no hitters.
6/21/19 - German Marquez vs Walker Bueller
8/18/20 - Antonio Senzatela vs Zack Greinke
4/26/21 - Zack Wheeler vs Adam Wainwright
5/7/21 - Zack Plesac vs Wade Miley (no hitter for Miley)
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I guess the question is, at what point does the bullpen become such a liability that you throw caution to the wind and just ramp your starters up. The season is pretty much over so it is a moot point, but I would have liked to see this particular philosophy abandoned, when the Sox bullpen was blowing games left and right and the Sox still were in contention. I will concede that even if Cora had started to let the starters go longer, it might not have mattered given that the main problem with this team is the offense.
My point isn't that they were making a conscious effort to limit pitch counts and batters faced but that the pitchers weren't yet conditioned to do it even if they wanted to. And the fact that other teams have been in the same boat re-inforces that it as likely to be a by-product of the shortened spring training instead of a hard and fast team philosophy.
 

Ganthem

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My point isn't that they were making a conscious effort to limit pitch counts and batters faced but that the pitchers weren't yet conditioned to do it even if they wanted to. And the fact that other teams have been in the same boat re-inforces that it as likely to be a by-product of the shortened spring training instead of a hard and fast team philosophy.
I see what your saying and for the long term future of the team it makes sense. Since other teams did the same thing and have produced better results, I guess the moral is that our offense sucks.
 

themactavish

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In terms of long-term development, it makes sense to make him a starter, provided he can be excellent (which seems pretty likely at this point). But in terms of winning games right now, if he gives you 4-5 great innings, but the game is then handed to a shaky bullpen, those innings are effectively wasted when the bullpen loses it. On the other hand, if you use him to nail down the ends of good starts by someone else (and only use him this way, not in lost or losing causes), you should get more wins out of it. Obviously, the wisdom here depends upon Whitlock being handed leads in the middle-late innings, and if he's not pitching the rest of the game, it hinges on someone closing effectively at the very end. Nonetheless, if he pitches 5 great innings, that leaves 4 for someone else to blow it, while if he takes over for a starter who hands him the lead after 3-5 innings, then he can shorten the game in terms of the room for someone else to blow it.
 

Daniel_Son

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In terms of long-term development, it makes sense to make him a starter, provided he can be excellent (which seems pretty likely at this point). But in terms of winning games right now, if he gives you 4-5 great innings, but the game is then handed to a shaky bullpen, those innings are effectively wasted when the bullpen loses it. On the other hand, if you use him to nail down the ends of good starts by someone else (and only use him this way, not in lost or losing causes), you should get more wins out of it. Obviously, the wisdom here depends upon Whitlock being handed leads in the middle-late innings, and if he's not pitching the rest of the game, it hinges on someone closing effectively at the very end. Nonetheless, if he pitches 5 great innings, that leaves 4 for someone else to blow it, while if he takes over for a starter who hands him the lead after 3-5 innings, then he can shorten the game in terms of the room for someone else to blow it.
But wouldn't it be easier to augment the bullpen via trades/farm help? It's much harder to get a cost-controlled guy who's capable of succeeding as a front-end starter. If the Sox are in a position to compete come July, I think they've got the resources to get significant bullpen help. I don't think they have the prospect capital to acquire a no. 2 or 3 starter.
 
May 11, 2022
1
If they go on a run and back in contention slide him back to the pen if need be, otherwise take the long view and look to develop him as starter.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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But wouldn't it be easier to augment the bullpen via trades/farm help? It's much harder to get a cost-controlled guy who's capable of succeeding as a front-end starter. If the Sox are in a position to compete come July, I think they've got the resources to get significant bullpen help. I don't think they have the prospect capital to acquire a no. 2 or 3 starter.
Isn’t it likely that the SP help comes from within, in the form of Sale and or Paxton? Good problem to have, but in the event of perfect health for the starters, it seems like Whitlock could potentially be moved to the pen anyways .
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Isn’t it likely that the SP help comes from within, in the form of Sale and or Paxton? Good problem to have, but in the event of perfect health for the starters, it seems like Whitlock could potentially be moved to the pen anyways .
He and Houck are the most likely candidates to be bumped from the rotation later in the year not because of effectiveness but because both are likely going to be on some sort of innings limit anyway. Moving them to the pen late in the year might be necessary just to manage their inning totals. Beats a full Strasburg-style shutdown, at least.
 

nvalvo

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I want him starting in 2023, as our in-house replacement for Eovaldi.

With that in mind, his usage this seasons should be whatever gets him to an appropriate innings threshold (120 IP?). That probably means a move back to the 'pen later in the season.
 

DourDoerr

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Starting - and it's not even close. If this team's going anywhere in the near future, it's going to need good starting pitching. Whitlock's exactly the kind of prospect you develop for this role. Relievers are obviously valuable too, but they're a heck of a lot easier and cheaper in acquisition and financial costs to obtain. Right now, as several posters mentioned above, the team's in a good position to use innings for development. Lemonade out of lemons.