Tanner Houck will make his 2021 Red Sox debut Saturday
It probably wasn’t through the route he would’ve hoped for but Tanner Houck has made the Red Sox Opening Day roster. The rookie impressed fans and the team alike last season after his September call-up and had a big shot at making the roster via spring training. Unfortunately, he was edged out by Nick Pivetta and was set to start the year at the alternate training site in Worcester. If he had a better showing in spring things may have gone differently but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Things began to develop late last week as it was reported that Eduardo Rodriguez was dealing with a case of dead arm and may miss his Opening Day start. It wouldn’t take long for that to become reality and then the whispers started that he may even start the year on the IL. It was then said by the Red Sox that they were going to begin getting Houck ready in case they were going to be without Rodriguez.
Earlier today, the Red Sox made their final roster announcements ahead of 2021 and it was made official that E-Rod would start the year on the IL. In that same announcement, it was said that Houck would be recalled from Worcester to fill the vacancy in the starting rotation. His first call to action will come this weekend against the Orioles at Fenway Park.
Houck ended spring training with a 2-0 record but had a 5.06 ERA and 1.781 WHIP in 10.2 innings. This was in stark contrast to his 2020 debut that saw him go 3-0/0.53/17.0/0.882. Alex Cora said it best when speaking about the righty today when he said it felt like Tanner was trying too hard to impress someone in spring early on versus his final start which was lights-out.
“Just watching him pitch the last one, him knowing the situation, you could tell he breathed,” ALex Cora said. “It felt like, early in camp he was trying to impress someone. I told him before it started, ‘You go out there and pitch.’ But the velocity was way up, he was out of his delivery. We haven’t talked about it, but he felt like he was off.”
Though he’s not expected to be with the big club for long as the timetable for an Eddie return should be quick, he has his second chance to make a statement. Many in Red Sox Nation expected him to make the roster right away but Cora was pretty adamant that his plan was always for Houck to start in Worcester.
It feels like the game plan will be to bring him back up as the season progresses and possibly keep him promoted considering the injury history of this rotation. The only member of the starting squad that hasn’t missed significant time due to injury is Nick Pivetta, so I think Houck will be on Cora’s speed dial.
AC would transition to Saturday and how it should be a special day for Houck as he’ll be able to pitch in front of his family for the first time as a member of the Red Sox. Obviously, fans weren’t allowed in the crowds last year which means Tanner couldn’t have his support system there to see him make his debut. That all changes on Saturday though when he’ll get his shot at the Orioles with his family cheering him on.
“He’s going to be excited on Saturday because he’s going to pitch in front of his family for the first time as a big-leaguer,” Cora said. “I think he’s in a good position now to come here and contribute.”
Tanner Houck became an instant fan favorite after his debut with the Red Sox in 2020. He not only lit up the opposition but also proved why he was ranked so high in the prospect system. Though his first run this year will probably be a quick one I don’t think we’ll be waiting long to see him back at Fenway Park in 2021. This Saturday can be a hell of a start to his campaign and has the chance to build his confidence toward a full-time big-league promotion. I’m really looking forward to seeing the righty take the hill against the Orioles this weekend and show once again why he should be on the Opening Day roster.