Starter or reliever? Red Sox GM clears up Whitlock's role for 2023 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Both Boston Red Sox pitchers entered the offseason uncertain whether they would be used as starters or relievers in 2023. On Wednesday, Red Sox general manager Brian O'Halloran provided some clarity.
O'Halloran told reporters the team has informed Whitlock he will "almost certainly" be a starting pitcher next season. The same goes for Houck, though there remains a chance he could pitch out of the bullpen.
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Whitlock has posted a 2.73 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP with 163 strikeouts in 77 games since breaking out as a Red Sox reliever in 2021. The 26-year-old, who signed a four-year extension with the team in April, had a 4.15 ERA across nine starts last season.
Houck pitched primarily out of the bullpen in 2022, posting a 3.15 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 32 appearances. He allowed eight runs in four starts (16.2 innings).
There has been much debate about what Whitlock's role should be for next season. While he's thrived in a relief role, Boston's rotation needs all the help it can get. However, Whitlock's absence in the bullpen will be felt if chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom fails to upgrade Boston's relief pitching this offseason.