Red Sox: After long 2021, Tanner Houck finally earns starting rotation job

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 24: Tanner Houck #89 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the first inning of a game against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park on August 24, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 24: Tanner Houck #89 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the first inning of a game against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park on August 24, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Tanner Houck finally has his home with the Red Sox

Earlier this week, Red Sox skipper Alex Cora sat down with the media and spoke about a laundry list of topics. One of the things that he discussed that got my attention and put a smile on my face was the future of Tanner Houck. The righty first debuted for the club at the end of 2020 and then was shipped back and forth between Boston and Worcester in 2021, but those days are now over.

Cora made it known that Houck would be a member of the Red Sox for 2022, and more importantly, had earned his spot in the starting rotation. Over the course of the offseason and lockout much was discussed what his role would be this season and now we have an answer.

Some thought he’d be in the bullpen, and it seemed possible thanks to the signings done before the lockout, but AC has put those concerns to rest. The righty with the nasty slider now knows what he’ll be doing this season and what looks like his first full season in the big leagues, he’s ready to make an impact.

"“My plan coming into camp was to work and not really take anything to granted,” Houck said. “For me to earn that spot and for them to have the trust in me, thank you to them. I hope to do them proud.”"

The 25-year-old had an overall pretty solid 2021 season but had handcuffs placed on him based on how deep he was allowed to go into games. While he could manage the opposing lineup the first two times through when it would flip to a third go-around he’d go from Hulk to Bruce Banner.

Cora wasn’t shy about that game plan and let the baseball world know that 2022 would be a much different story and Houck will be a full-fledged weapon for the Red Sox. Now that the right-hander has more experience under his belt and has logged those hours in the majors, AC is ready to take the restrictions off and set Houck loose.

"“He did an amazing job last year. Looking forward to him to take the next step,” Cora said. “It was a different role and he was really good for us. Now, it’s just a matter of putting everything together and keep improving. It’s a guy that we trust. It’s a guy we’re going to stretch out. The way he went about it last year with everything that went on was perfect.”"

One of the knocks against Houck was his lack of a third pitch in his arsenal beyond his fastball and slider. Only having the two pitches were the big reason why Cora wouldn’t let him go too long into games as it gets a bit predictable for the hitter when you’re only looking for one of two things at the plate.

If he was able to add some more tricks to his repertoire then I think we may have a guy that can do some great things in this starting rotation. Being surrounded by guys like Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale, and Rich Hill sure helps a lot as well. It’s been a long time since the Red Sox had a homegrown starter do anything of importance but Houck definitely has that potential based on what we’ve seen from him.

Getting into the rotation and having a full-time spot on the roster will also be huge for his development. Being shipped back and forth between the majors and minors last season couldn’t have been good for him and now we can see what he can really do going forward.

At the end of the day, Tanner knows what his job is with the team and it didn’t matter what jersey he was wearing on any given day, he set out to get the damn thing done.

"“Having a routine is always nice. But like I said last year, whether I was in Worcester, whether I was at Fenway, it didn’t matter,” Houck said. “There was work to be done. I knew I was going to get another start, whether in Worcester or in Fenway. I never took that for granted.”"

Tanner Houck has been a blast to watch since making his debut at the end of 2020. It hasn’t always been pretty, and again I think his constant traveling could be to blame, but he has shown flashes of brilliance. Now that he has a set role with the organization and knows what his job will be in 2022, I expect to see the best version of him.

dark. Next. Rich HIll is ready to win a ring in Boston