It’s incredibly rare these days for pitchers to not strike some batters out. The batters themselves don’t even care. But as long as you’re getting guys out and keeping your pitch count low, there’s nothing wrong with leaning on your defense a little bit.
Red Sox righty Garrett Whitlock did just that, to an absurd degree, in the Red Sox’ 7-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night. He struck out zero (!) batters in six innings, which, according to Ian Browne of MLB.com, is the first time a Red Sox pitcher struck out no batters in at least six innings since Aaron Cook in 2012.
Before that, it was Curt Schilling in 2007. Before that, Bret Saberhagen, 1998. Roger Clemens, 1987.
The impressive part about Whitlock’s outing, though, is that he was still lights-out and efficient despite the lack of punchouts, which is increasingly rare in Major League Baseball these days. Of his 20 batters faced, he induced 10 groundouts and 10 flyball outs. He threw 70 pitches, 50 for strikes, and walked none. The lone Reds run was unearned.
Whitlock is now 2-1 on the season with a 3.02 ERA. Despite the no-strikeout outing, he’s still struck out 44 batters in 44.2 innings. Only Michael Wacha has a better ERA (2.43) among Red Sox starters.
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Whitlock is also the only Red Sox pitcher to both start and save a game. As a dominant starter-reliever hybrid, one could argue he’s been Boston’s pitching MVP.
The Red Sox are off Thursday, then will join the NBA Finals-bound Celtics in the Bay Area when they begin a west coast road trip with a three-game set at the Oakland Athletics on Friday.
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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at email@example.com.