Competition for open spots in the Red Sox rotation is heating up

Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale
Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages
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Red Sox pitcher Tanner Houck
Red Sox pitcher Tanner Houck / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Tanner Houck: 32 appearances (4 starts) with Red Sox in 2022

Tanner Houck, the Swiss army knife of the Red Sox, is no stranger to being utilized in a variety of roles. Last season, he was used primarily in relief (including as the closer), but he did also make 4 starts.

Houck's pitching ability and quality of stuff has never been in-doubt; rather, it has been his ability to consistently throw strikes that has held him back. Throwing 20-25 pitches per inning, working deep in counts, and stranding baserunners that were put on-base by a walk or hit-by-pitch is not too detrimental for a reliever. However, this way of operating is simply not sustainable for a starting pitcher.

In 20 career starts, Tanner Houck has never pitched into the 7th inning; he has only logged 6 innings on two occasions. In 146.0 innings pitched in his MLB career, he has missed plenty of bats (164 strikeouts); he has also struggled with his command (13 HBP, 52 walks).

If Houck is hoping to win a spot in the Opening Day starting rotation, he will need to prove that he can throw strikes consistently and attack hitters early in counts. So far this spring, results have been less than ideal in this regard.

In his only spring training outing to-date (March 2nd), he lasted 1.2 innings and issued 4 walks. He did strike out 2 and did not give up any hits or runs, but as a starting pitcher he will be expected to be more than just effective. He will need to be efficient, as well.