Red Sox rookie Tanner Houck dominates in 2020
Tanner Houck has been one of the prospects that Red Sox Nation as been waiting on for some time now. He’s been in Boston’s top-10 as far as prospects are concerned and finally got his chance to test his mettle in the Majors. While his numbers in the Minors weren’t anything to write home about, he should enough potential that he was worth the risk, and the wait.
To put things into perspective, the righty has faced three playoff-bound teams (Marlins, Yankees, and Braves) in his three starts this season and is leaving 2020 with a 3-0 record through 17.0 IP and has an insane 0.53 ERA. Add into that the fact that he has a 21/9 K/BB ratio, 0.882 WHIP, 3.25 FIP, and an 11.1 K/9. To say that he lived up to the expectations would be a massive understatement and downright disrespectful to the righthander.
"“Well, [chief baseball officer] Chaim [Bloom] and I just talked, and I think that it’s still a short sample, but it’s against three good teams,” said Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke. “We feel pretty good that this guy can do this against the best hitters in the game, so I think it’s really encouraging when you’re looking at trying to fill in spots for a starting rotation and then you see that from a young guy. Chaim’s got a smile on his face right now, so you know it’s pretty good.”"
I’ve seen numerous people on social media tell excited fans that they needed to “pump the breaks.” Yes, I put that into quotes, because I’ve literally seen that exact phrase over multiple platforms and it’s incredibly annoying. Don’t tell fans to stop being excited about something just because you can’t be. This season was a disaster with nothing but negativity, don’t ruin one of the few positives that there was.
Alright, now that I’m done yelling at people, let’s get back to talking about Houk-A-Mania! Not only has Tanner garnered the admiration of Red Sox Nation, but he’s received it from his organization and a recent opponent as well. He pitched against the Atlanta Braves in his final start of 2020 where he went 6IP/3H/1R/3BB/10K and shut down one of the most dangerous lineups in all of baseball. After the start Braves manager Brian Snitker had nothing but praise for him.
"“He is nasty,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We haven’t seen him before. His ball moves a lot. He has a funky delivery that he kind of crossfires at you. He was effectively wild, but his stuff was live. He really did a really good job.”"
Red Sox righty Tanner Houck has earned his shot at 2021 rotation
When you look at his MiLB numbers there wasn’t anything to see that jumps off the screen. In all actuality, he’s been pretty mediocre so far in his career, but for a reason. While working through the Red Sox system the coaching staff has been trying to refine and work on what kind of pitcher he was going to be. Due to the tinkering, Houck never saw the kind of success that his high draft selection should garner.
Thanks to some time in the alternate site this season where there was a solid mix of high-level prospects as well as MLB talent, he’s been able to find his groove and style on the mound. His slider is easily his best weapon and it’s at a level that has everyone comparing it to another Red Sox hurler, Chris Sale. Not only does it have a similar movement, but the way that Tanner’s arm and body move through his motion is reminiscent of Sale.
Speaking of Sale, he’s begun a throwing routine and is on the road to recovery from Tommy John surgery. As we all know, the timetable for a return from that procedure is always up in the air as the smallest of hiccups can create massive setbacks. Eduardo Rodriguez recently received a positive prognosis as he makes his way back from both Myocarditis and COVID and can begin making his way back to the team for 2021. So where does that leave Houck for next year?
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
I honestly think we’ll see him as an early-season member of the rotation as Sale and E-Rod continue to build themselves back up for their returns. Then as they come back, he could become the back of the rotation guy or add to the bullpen for long inning work. I think he’ll be used for depth in the rotation and will be in a battle with Nick Pivetta for the fifth starting spot. If he continues to work on his arsenal this winter then he should be coming into camp ready to compete.
Though the start of his career has been electric, Houck knows that the worm can turn at any moment and he can fall back to reality. He’ll need to continue to progress during the winter and make his way to Fort Myers ready to fight for his job in 2021.
"“I know I’ve had some success now, but this game isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon,” Houck said. “You’ve got to go out there and produce year to year. So a lot of work to be done still, but I’m ready to put in the work, and I invite a lot of competition.”"
Tanner Houck has been one of the very few bright spots in an otherwise dismal 2020 Red Sox campaign. Not only has he lived up to the potential that we always heard about but he’s got fans ready for what he can do next year. If what he brings to the table in 2021 is anything like what we saw at the tail end of this season, then Boston has themselves one hell of a home grown talent. Something that they aren’t known for in the pitching sphere, and could the signs of something coming down the pipe.