Alex Cora Explains Red Sox’s Plan For Pitcher Tanner Houck After Call-Up

The right-hander will be used both as a starter and in the bullpen

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The Boston Red Sox seemingly wanted to give themselves another versatile arm and it led to the promotion of Tanner Houck on Thursday.

Houck, who pitched three games (two starts) for the Red Sox earlier this season, has not appeared in a Major League game since mid-April. Houck joins a Red Sox team entering a key stretch — consecutive series against the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays — with hopes of maintaining its hold on the American League East.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora explained how that paved the way to Houck’s call-up, and how the organization is planning to use the 25-year-old. Houck, of note, has a 4.35 ERA with Boston this season after recording a perfect 3-0 record with a 0.53 ERA during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.

“We’ll use Tanner out of the bullpen in this series. Most likely he’ll make a start against Toronto, the last game, and we go from there,” Cora said on a video conference before Thursday’s game against the Yankees was postponed. “It’s a tough stretch here, it’s a lot of games. So we feel like we have to take care of our guys and adding somebody like him in certain spots is going to help us accomplish what we want to accomplish.”

Cora further explained how Houck provides the Red Sox with a pitcher who can work in both a starter and relief role, noting he is likely to return to the bullpen before making a second start.

Cora also referenced the fact the Red Sox go up against a fair share of right-handed, power-hitting teams in the short term made it a good time to do so.

“We face a lot of right-handed lineups coming up. We feel like he can match with them, nothing against the other guys, but I do believe using Martín (Pérez) at home against a right-handed lineup, hopefully they shoot it to right field and make outs,” Cora said. “It’s something as an organization we’ve been talking about for a while now. This is what the plan is and we really believe that this is the right way of doing it. We’re not trying to out-smart people here either, our guys have been solid for X amount of games where we trust them, but adding this kid is going to make us better.”

Houck, who joined fellow Triple-A Worcester call-up Jarren Duran in New York, views the opportunity as a chance to further his growth.

“In terms of what I want to get out of it, it’s just continuing to grow as a pitcher, and just face these elite lineups,” Houck said on a video conference Thursday.

He could get the chance Friday as the Red Sox are scheduled to face the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

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