Can Tanner Houck get his closer job “back?”
Tanner Houck became the de facto closer for the Red Sox and had solidified that position until the evil spirits that plagued the team and conspired to remove Houck. In this instance, it was an injury to his back.
Houck had the job and eight saves in the book, and the small sample shows Houck was steady, allowing just one earned run in 11.1 innings in save situations. I wrote about how Houck had Jonathan Papelbon’s potential and still may if his recovery is 100%. As one who has suffered back miseries, I will remain skeptical.
Right-hander Houck had swing-and-miss stuff (28.3 CSW%), tosses a killer slider over 40%, and can touch it up to the high 90s with his heater and its variations. In his small relief sample, Houck issued just two walks – a definite plus for me. Houck also appeared to adapt to the role, and his loss instituted a bullpen shuffle.
The other unknown in the mix is if Houck is pegged for the rotation, which may need some significant shoring up. The splits show Houck is more solid in relief than as a starter, mainly since Houck is limited to two pitches.
Again I raise the word “if” regarding Houck. A healthy Houck locks down closer with no extravagant expenditures, mind-boggling trades, and a roster-wide search for a savior.