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Game 11: Red Sox at Rays: The Return of Whitlock

Garrett rides again

Boston Red Sox Spring Training Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays are now 10-0 and the Red Sox are back at .500 with a 5-5 record.

Let’s only briefly worry about the Rays sending yet another left against a lineup that was absolutely held back by lefties last night. Because…

It’s the 2023 debut of 2021 sensation Garrett Whitlock! Unlike last season he’s starting in the rotation, will stay in the rotation, and unless there is something major and unforeseen, will remain in the rotation. If he can pitch like he did out of the ‘pen for 5 or 6 innings at a time why wouldn’t you convert him? Before his injury - and then the Red Sox theft of him from the Yankees - he was viewed as a starter. Clearly the stuff is still there. If he can fully adjust to pitching more innings less often that’s a huge win.

To be clear, Whitlock was still a lot better last year when relieving than starting. Opposing batters hit .261/.305/.418 vs .179/.211/.336 and the OPS against went from .587 to .901 rom the first to second time through the batting order. But that’s just nine starts. And he only faced the lineup a third time in four games. And he was transitioned from a bullpen role in-season.

With any luck he’s got a few good innings tonight because the team could really use them. But this is a season-long journey and we might be only at the start of a Whitlock / Bello top of the rotation for the better part of the next decade.

Game 11: Red Sox at Rays

Lineup spot Red Sox Rays
Lineup spot Red Sox Rays
1 Kiké Hernández, SS Yandy Díaz, 1B
2 Rafael Devers, 3B Brandon Lowe, 2B
3 Justin Turner, DH Randy Arozarena, LF
4 Masataka Yoshida, LF Wander Franco, SS
5 Rob Refsnyder, CF Luke Raley, RF
6 Alex Verdugo, RF Isaac Paredes, 3B
7 Christian Arroyo, 2B Francisco Mejía, C
8 Bobby Dalbec, 1B Josh Lowe, CF
9 Connor Wong, C Vidal Bruián, 2B
SP Garrett Whitlock, RHP Shane McClanahan, LHP

First pitch is at 6:40 PM and the game is on NESN+ and WEEI. Not regular NESN.