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Red Sox place SP Garrett Whitlock on the IL with elbow neuritis

Whitlock, a key part of Boston’s rotation plans, had just returned from offseason hip surgery.

Garrett Whitlock of the Boston Red Sox gets ready to throw a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on April 22, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

When it rains, it pours, and the Boston Red Sox rotation is soaked right now. Just a couple weeks after getting Garrett Whitlock back from offseason hip surgery, the team put the righty on the injured list on Friday afternoon with what it’s calling right elbow neuritis.

Brayan Bello, one of Boston’s top pitching prospects who himself got off to a late start this season due to injury, was recalled back from Triple-A to make Whitlock’s scheduled start Saturday against the Cleveland Guardians. Ulnar neuritis is a somewhat ominous diagnosis; it’s essentially inflammation of nerve endings in the elbow, which can lead to numbness and tingling down the arm. Sometimes, pitchers will just miss a few weeks. Other times, as was the case with Tampa Bay Rays ace Jeffrey Springs earlier this month, it can be a sign of Tommy John surgery. The team has yet to offer any sort of timetable or prognosis.

Whitlock had been a multi-inning Swiss Army knife for Boston over the past couple of years— pitching to a 2.73 ERA over 77 appearances and nine starts — and the team entered 2023 planning on converting him to a full-time starter. Recovery from hip surgery last September delayed his spring, and he’d struggled in his first couple of starts this year, but the 26-year-old still carried immense upside.

Now, Boston is back searching for answers at a position where depth was already an issue. The team attempted to fill the rotation on the cheap this offseason, but Chris Sale has looked like a guy who’s only thrown 71.1 innings since 2019, Corey Kluber has looked like a guy who just turned 37 and Nick Pivetta has been his typical mercurial self. Bello, meanwhile, got shelled in two starts earlier in this month, while James Paxton struggles in Triple-A as he looks to rehab from a hamstring injury. There are very few — arguably zero — known quantities right now, putting the team in a precarious spot.