The Red Sox have a history of bouncing pitchers back and forth from the starting rotation and the bullpen, sometimes to the detriment of the player’s development. For now, they want to avoid such a scenario with Tanner Houck.
A first-round pick in 2017, Houck impressed last September after a late-season promotion to the big leagues. The right-hander won all three of his starts while posting a 0.53 ERA and 11.1 strikeout-per-nine-innings ratio. However, Houck’s struggles against left-handers and his limited pitch mix cause many evaluators to believe he’s ticketed for the bullpen.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora on Wednesday indicated Houck won’t see the bullpen anytime soon.
“I think we’ve been through that road as an organization for the last 15 years,” Cora said, as transcribed by MassLive’s Chris Cotillo. “We’re considering him a starter.”
Cora then clarified Houck will not be a bullpen option to begin the 2021 season.
As for whether Houck has a legitimate shot of breaking camp in the Red Sox rotation, that remains to be seen. All signs point toward the 24-year-old being the odd man out, but injuries and spring training performances obviously could change everything.
At this point, it probably is safe to assume Houck will begin the year as a starter for Triple-A Worcester.