Red Sox Reveal Role Plans For Whitlock and Houck For 2023

The Boston Red Sox have plenty of pitching staff concerns heading into this offseason. Both the rotation and the bullpen were a mess come season's end this year. With Chris Sale completely unreliable due to continued injury problems and Nate Eovaldi hitting free agency, it appears they've decided to address the rotation first, as they plan to convert two of their best arms back into starters.

Red Sox beat reporter Chris Cotillo reports that the team has told Garrett Whitlock that he will almost certainly be a starter in 2023. They also plan to have Tanner Houck build back up as a starter but he adds those plans could still change. Both pitchers bounced back and forth this season between starting and relieving, and each were relatively effective in both roles. 

Whitlock was a starter coming up through the minors in the New York Yankees' system, and Boston moved him to the bullpen out of need in 2021 where he was extremely effective. 

But Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told The Boston Globe's Pete Abraham, "just because of the situation our bullpen was in and the situation he was in physically, I think there’s this perception he didn’t succeed as a starter. But when you really peel back the layers and look at what he did, it was pretty impressive. Especially having to (move into the rotation) on the fly.”

As a reliever, Whitlock posted a 2.75 ERA, 44:6 K/BB ratio and a .179 batting average against in 22 appearances. In 9 starts, he pitched to a 4.15 ERA. 

Houck has switched back and forth for two seasons now but GM Brian O'Halloran has told him, “we talked through that he will go through the offseason planning to be a starter and we’ll build him up as such. But there’s a little bit of definition around his role and he knows it could go in either direction.”

Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports