Tanner Houck’s return to the big leagues went about as well as you could ask.
The Boston Red Sox pitcher closed out the last three innings of a 3-0 win against the New York Yankees on Friday, earning the first save of his MLB career after allowing one hit with three strikeouts.
Coming out of the bullpen still is a bit unusual for Houck — a starter for most of his career. But by calling him up ahead of the series against New York, the plan is to use Houck in a hybrid role where he starts and pitches in relief. For now, at least, as the Red Sox play with a six-man rotation and await Chris Sale’s return.
After the 25-year-old’s performance, Alex Cora noted Houck is better than he was in April before an injury forced him to miss time. But according to teammate Alex Verdugo, those changes have Houck reminding him of their ace.
“Houck obviously we saw yesterday,” Verdugo said before Saturday’s game. “Three innings, no runs against the Yankees and ended up earning his first career save. I think there’s been the comparison of him side-by-side with Chris Sale, so it’s kind of like the righty version of Chris Sale, in a sense. So he’s gonna be big for us as well. He’s a guy that’s got a really live arm. A lot of movement with everything he does, and really just look forward to having him.”
That’s a lofty comparison, but one Houck surely will take.