Make or break season for Sox’s Tanner Houck?
This is the show-me season for righty Tanner Houck as the team has positioned the 26-year-old as a starter. In 2022 Houck made just four starts (1-2, 4.32) and was statistically more effective out of the bullpen (4-2, 2.70, 8 saves), but that was then, and this is now.
Just a few short years back, Houck was a highly regarded prospect for Boston but to put that evaluation in perspective, Jeter Downs was their top-ranked prospect.
At this point, Houck is a two-pitch hurler with a mid-90s fastball and a slider. Houck occasionally mixes in a splitter, but that number one has a natural sink to it, as demonstrated by a career 0.5 HR/9 and 49.5 GB%. Both are good omens for a reliever in a bases-jammed situation and a factor that may eventually have Houck return to the ‘pen.
Speaking of the ‘pen Houck was more effective in that role in 2021, so history may not be on his side if a bullpen need develops. Houck is especially tough on righties tossing a career .199 against them versus a respectable .232 for lefties. Houk may end up being this generation’s, Bob Stanley.
With the recent addition of Corey Kluber, Houck could be high on the list for the odd man out in the rotation, especially in April with a game lean schedule. But historically, pitching depth is always a plus. Just glance back at 2009 when Boston was projected to have the proverbial boat load of starters, and by the end of the season, Paul Byrd was getting starts.