On Sept. 15, 2020, Tanner Houck made his major league debut, throwing five scoreless innings against the Miami Marlins. Exactly a year later, he got the ball again — this time in a crucial battle against the Seattle Mariners as the Boston Red Sox are fighting to keep themselves in the postseason conversation.
Suffice to say that a year after his first start, Houck is getting the full major league experience. Growing pains included.
The 25-year-old was incredible through his first few appearances in 2021, as he was getting sent back-and-forth from Boston to Triple-A Worcester to allow for roster flexibility. Since he became a more regular part of the group, he’s struggled slightly.
In six starts scattered throughout April and July, Houck pulled together a 2.45 ERA. In seven turns through the rotation entering Wednesday, that figure raised to 4.31, as four of those outings included three earned runs.
On Wednesday, he also scattered three earned runs, but it felt like a more put together outing than some of his more recent starts. He struck out seven, walked one and scattered four hits. He threw 41 of his 75 pitches for strikes.
With the bullpen behind him and a resurgence from the offense, the Red Sox came away with a 9-4 win in extra innings.
After the game, Houck said he was pleased with his performance.
“I think it’s trending in the right direction,” he said via Zoom. “I definitely feel more consistent. I feel better. I’ve worked really hard these past few days with (pitching coach Dave Bush) in kind of redefining my windup. I had felt kind of a little off with it the past few starts but I’ve had a lot of good work with him these past five days to hone that in and work and just continue to push myself.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora said it was “too early” to discuss what Houck’s role could be moving forward into what hopefully will be a postseason bout, and he’d rather enjoy the win. But if Houck truly is on the other side of an adjustment period (which is of course to be expected), he should be an important piece of the rotation for years to come.