The Red Sox will once again turn to Tanner Houck
In what should come as no surprise to anyone, the Red Sox are in a bit of a pitching jam today and they’re calling on Tanner Houck to get them out of it. Now, it’s not because of some managerial blunder or an injury to a starter, simply that sweet spring weather.
Thanks to a snowstorm, yes a snowstorm in April, Friday night’s clash with the White Sox was postponed so we have a double-header today. This will be Boston’s second double-header in less than a week and in order to keep the rotation intact, Alex Cora used his 27th roster spot to recall Houck.
In last week’s double-header, Cora used the bonus spot to call up rookie reliever Eduard Bazardo and it paid off big for the skipper. Today’s was more of a desperation move with Houck as Cora needs a starter and also wants to give his rotation a semblance of a normal schedule. He’ll get the nod to pitch in today’s opening tilt which is set for a 1:05 pm first pitch. He’ll be followed in the double-header by Martín Pérez in the afternoon cap.
Tanner has become a bit of a hired gun for the Red Sox dating back to his initial promotion to the big club back in September of last season. He would make his MLB debut during the pandemic altered 2020 campaign and instantly make a statement.
The young righty would post an insane 3-0 record through 17 innings with a 0.882 WHIP. He also amassed a 21-9 K/BB ratio that saw him average an 11.1 K/9 and a 0.53 ERA. For someone that wasn’t even Boston’s most touted pitching prospect, he was damn electric.
2021 saw much of the same as in his only start this season he went five innings while striking out eight and allowing two earned across the plate. He also made a relief appearance that saw him toss an inning where he added another pair of whiffs to his tally of victims. Houck has a lot of Red Sox Nation behind him and many, I included, wish there was a way he could remain with the parent team, but there just isn’t.
As it stands, Cora is sticking with his five-man rotation and I don’t blame him. Even with a few hiccups here and there Boston’s starters have been lights-out and a major improvement over the last two years. Not to mention, they’ll eventually have to find a way to fit Chris Sale back into the mix once he’s healthy again. Possibly a trip to the bullpen for the Condor in a switch with one of the weaker lefty relievers is on tap. Cough, Josh Taylor, cough.
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It seems that for now Houck knows his role as a spot starter and seems to be ok with it. AC spoke to the media about the move yesterday and said the righty understands his job with the team and is ready to execute it. Masslive.com’s Chris Cotillo points out that Houck will likely be heading back to Worcester once his job is finished today just as we saw with Bazardo and even Michael Chavis before that. Luckily for the Red Sox, since the double-header rules allow them to add a player they won’t have to burn one of his options to send him back to the alternate training site.
"“Where we’re at right now, we knew this was going to happen,” Cora said. “You look at the guys who have pitched for us, they have done an amazing job. The difference between this team and last year and even 2019, we’re a lot deeper. He was a professional when we talked to him and he understands. Whenever we need him, he’ll be here and he’ll perform.”"
It’s clear that the Red Sox are high on Houck or else they wouldn’t rely on him so heavily when they’re in a bind. Eventually, he’ll make his way into the starting rotation for good, and with the injury history of this staff that may be sooner rather than later. As long as he continues to put in the work and get better while coming through for the team, he’ll earn his spot. If they didn’t believe in him he wouldn’t be getting the shots that he is. Today is just another chance for Houck to show his bosses that he deserves to be pitching at Fenway, and not Polar Park.