HomeMLB RumorsGarrett Whitlock Likely To Undergo Internal Brace Procedure

Garrett Whitlock Likely To Undergo Internal Brace Procedure

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TODAY: Whitlock is tentatively set to undergo an internal brace procedure, he told The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey and other reporters.  The details will be confirmed after more testing this coming week.  Assuming the surgery takes place as planned, Whitlock will miss roughly 11-12 months in recovery, as opposed to the longer 13-15 month timeline associated with Tommy John surgeries.

MAY 20: Garrett Whitlock has suffered ligament damage in his throwing elbow, Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced to reporters (including Chris Cotillo of MassLive). The Boston right-hander will go for further evaluation tomorrow to determine whether he can avoid surgery.

This was the outcome which the team and its fans feared last week. Whitlock reported elbow soreness coming out of a rehab start for Triple-A Worcester on Wednesday. He’d been working back from an oblique strain that had shelved him since the middle of April and had been hoping to return to the MLB team in the coming days.

Instead, there looks to be a good chance that his 2024 season is over. If Whitlock does need surgery, it would threaten his ’25 campaign as well. Whitlock has already undergone a Tommy John procedure in his career. That came back in 2019 when he was pitching in the Yankees farm system. Whitlock also had two elbow-related injured list stints in 2023, the latter of which cost him five weeks between July and August. Neither of those involved any ligament damage, but this injury unfortunately appears to be more serious.

The 27-year-old hasn’t had a full season as a starting pitcher since his time in the minors. He was an excellent multi-inning relief weapon for his first two MLB campaigns. Boston gave him 10 starts last year before his July injured list placement. Whitlock worked out of the bullpen after returning. The Sox moved him back into the starting staff to open this year. He allowed only four runs in 18 1/3 innings prior to the oblique injury.

Cooper Criswell has stepped into the rotation behind Brayan BelloNick PivettaKutter Crawford and Tanner Houck. Signed to a $1MM contract last winter after being non-tendered by the Rays, Criswell has been quietly excellent through his first 29 1/3 frames for the Sox. He owns a 2.76 ERA with a solid 23.3% strikeout percentage and a tidy 5.8% walk rate.

Criswell, who will take the ball tomorrow against his old team in Tampa Bay, should hold a rotation spot for the foreseeable future. Starting pitching could be an area that first-year chief baseball officer Craig Breslow and his staff look to address around the deadline, assuming they hang in postseason contention. Boston blanked the Rays this evening to pull back to .500 at 24-24. They’re long shots to stick with the Yankees and Orioles at the top of the AL East but are firmly in the Wild Card picture.

While Boston’s rotation has been a surprising strength thus far, their front five is light on experience. Pivetta is the only member of the group who has ever started 30 MLB games in a season. He and Bello are the only ones who have surpassed the 130-inning threshold at the big league level.

That lack of volume is a big reason that Boston signed Lucas Giolito, who had been one of the league’s most durable pitchers, to a two-year free agent deal. Giolito immediately down with a partially torn UCL in Spring Training. He underwent an internal brace procedure and will miss the entire season.

Even if Whitlock is able to avoid going under the knife, he’s certainly in for a long-term absence. The Sox will move him to the 60-day injured list when they need a 40-man roster spot. Whitlock, who signed an extension back in 2022, is playing this season on a $3.25MM salary. He’ll make successive salaries of $5.25MM and $7.25MM over the next two seasons. Boston holds a $10.5MM option on his services for the 2027 campaign.

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