Since Chris Sale has returned, the main topic of discussion over the Red Sox rotation is Tanner Houck. The 25-year-old right hander is poised to make an impact in Boston. Possessing a deadly slider, many have dubbed Houck a right-handed Chris Sale. With Houck expected to see plenty of more starts as 2021 comes to a close, does this mean he’s ready to join the rotation full time?
Before 2021, Houck had appeared in just three MLB games, all in 2020. In those games though, Houck won all three and even churned out a sub 1.00 ERA (0.53). In the quagmire of COVID baseball, Houck was one part of last season Red Sox fans wanted to remember. With just that small sample size, many have already begun to speculate that Houck could be Boston’s future ace.
This season Houck has also preformed well. Spending much of his time in the minors, its obvious that Boston wants to refine the young pitcher. the Red Sox though have still given Houck a shot this season. In eight appearances, including six starts, Houck as pitched 30.2 innings with 44 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.93.
Unfortunately despite Houck’s performances, he has yet to record a win in 2021. In fact, he actually has three losses. Those stats however are not disconcerting. Houck clearly has the stuff to pitch at the top level, it is only a question of when he should begin to full time.
Is Houck Being Rushed Up Out Of Desperation?
Houck is expected to become a mainstay in the Boston rotation during the team’s worst stretch of the season. With Tampa Bay pulling away from Boston and the dreaded Yankees nipping at their heals, Houck will have a lot on his shoulders. The Red Sox have been very inconsistent since the All-Star break and perhaps they feel Houck could improve that. That is a heavy task to put on such a young starting pitcher.
One of the main focal points behind the Boston media and fans wrath at the Red Sox was their actions at the trade deadline. Inactions probably would actually be the better word here. While the AL East was loading up their line ups and bullpens, many thought Boston would add another starter. Boston did not pick up a starter.
There is the possibility that one of the factors that went into that decision was that Boston believed Tanner Houck will help supplement the rotation well. Again, he is young, but he is good. The Red Sox are not asking Houck to completely change their season trajectory. With Chris Sale and the rest of Boston’s starters still kicking, Houck really should not have any weight on his shoulders.
No Harm In Starting Early
Houck has a major league arm, there’s no reason for Boston to waste it. He has not been in Boston for most of the season, so he’s not at risk of straining himself too early. This late in the season may just be the perfect time to have Houck play. If anything, this late season stint really just helps to develop his arm even more for the next season.
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