Over the past month, the Red Sox have gotten a glimpse at the future in Bobby Dalbec. The Red Sox third-best prospect has gotten off to a hot start and impacted the Red Sox lineup. He, however, has not been alone, as Tanner Houck was called up last week. The Red Sox 10th best prospect has only made two starts but brought hope to an injury-riddled rotation.
Houck’s journey began in 2017 when the Red Sox selected him the 24th overall pick in the MLB draft. Coming into this season, Houck’s future was a bit uncertain as he has also spent some time in the bullpen over the past two seasons. The St. Louis native lacks a third pitch but has been trying to develop a split-finger fastball. On Sunday, he only used it twice but was still able to hold the Yankees scoreless.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 20, 2020
Through two Major League starts, Houck has pitched 11 innings and has yet to allow an earned run. In that span, he has only allowed three hits while striking out 11 batters. The Red Sox starter has also held batters to a .091 average and only walked six batters. The Missouri product has two wins, the third-most in the Red Sox rotation.
In a season full of disappointment Houck’s emergence has been a silver lining. Pitching has been the Red Sox biggest issue this year and Houck could be part of the solution. He also has the chance to claim in a spot on the rotation in an organization that has struggled to develop starting pitching.
What Lies Ahead
Over the past decade, the Red Sox have formed their starting rotation through trades and free agency. The last pitcher they developed who became a staple in the rotation was Clay Buchholz, who made his MLB debut in 2007. Houck could change that narrative as his career is only just beginning.
However, the biggest challenge for Houck will come next season as major league hitters adjust to his pitching style. While he still has to improve his third pitch, Houck has shown growth in other areas of the game. During Houck’s MLB tenure, he has not been overwhelmed by men on base and produced four double plays.
Tanner Houck, 93mph Two Seamer (foul) and 82mph Slider (backwards K), Individual Pitches + Overlay. pic.twitter.com/T3c8UKFTPu
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 16, 2020
Going into next season, the Red Sox rotation is full of question marks. Eduardo Rodriguez and Chris Sale are expected to return but have not made an appearance in over a year. Martin Perez is also likely to return, leaving two rotations spots up for grabs. While nothing is guaranteed, Houck is putting himself in an excellent position to claim one of those spots and become part of the Red Sox core.
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