As the count to Opening Day drops to a matter of days, Red Sox manager Alex Cora has his plan for pitching to begin the season.
In the battle for the final spot in the starting rotation, veteran left-hander Rich Hill will start the season in the fifth spot and Garrett Whitlock will head to the bullpen in a multi-inning role.
The 2022 season marks the start of a third stint with the Red Sox for Hill. The Milton, Mass. native returns to Boston after pitching to a 3.86 ERA across 31 starts for the Rays and Mets in 2021. The 42-year-old carries on with a career that spans 19 seasons and 11 different teams. His ability to change arm slots on his fastball to pair with a looping breaking ball will provide stability at the back end of the Red Sox rotation.
For Whitlock, the Rule Five draft pick returns in 2022 after he burst onto the scene as one of the most dominant relievers in baseball in 2021. After starting his career in the Yankees organization, Whitlock posted a 1.96 ERA across 73.1 IP while striking out just under 10 batters per nine innings. As a versatile arm with an electric pitch mix, Whitlock could once again be the most valuable arm on the Red Sox roster.
Entering Opening Day, Nathan Eovaldi will start the first game of the season against the Yankees and will be followed by Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, Michael Wacha, and Hill to begin the season. Chris Sale will eventually rejoin the top of the rotation as he rehabs from a stress fracture in his ribs.