Boston Red Sox pitcher Tanner Houck has bounced in between the starting rotation and bullpen duty, but the right-hander has put together three straight solid outings, fully embracing his role in the bullpen.
Houck was sent to the bullpen after Garrett Whitlock was added to the rotation on May 7. Since then, Houck has begun to gain more confidence in his role with his May 20 performance against the Seattle Mariners being the highlight of his current run, going four innings after changing his pitching approach.
On Wednesday night, Houck was called upon to relieve Rich Hill against the Chicago White Sox. Despite the loss, Houck pitched three scoreless innings, striking out three batters.
“The way it was set up, he was going to go in the ninth,” manager Alex Cora told reporters, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “If they kept the righties, he was going to keep going. He?s been doing a good job on the bullpen. He went three in Texas, then the four innings and now here. I know he ended up pitching in a losing game, but we had out chances offensively. We felt like it was a good moment for him to keep going and give us a chance to win.”
Houck, 25, is in good company with the Red Sox rotation, leaning on veterans like Hill for advice and leadership. Hill had nothing but praise for Houck and the young pitchers on Boston’s roster.
“Tanner’s throwing the ball great,” Hill told reporters, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “He’s going to be one of the young, great stars in this game coming up. The future here in Boston is really good. Obviously, the focus is this year, but what I’m saying is moving forward with guys like Garrett, Tanner, younger guys that are coming up, there’s a lot of great arms that are in this system, that are going to be able to produce for many years.”
Whether he is a starter or called upon in the bullpen, Houck grateful for the opportunities to help the Red Sox.
“I’ve said it before, I really do take it as the same, whether I’m starting or relieving,” Houck told reporters, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “As long as I’m going multiple innings, I’m comfortable. One inning, I’m comfortable. Same thing, no matter how many innings are out there, how many pitches you’ve thrown.”
The Red Sox will complete their series against the White Sox on Thursday at 8:10 p.m. ET at Guaranteed Rate Field before returning to Fenway Park to take on the Baltimore Orioles. Full coverage of Thursday’s Red Sox-White Sox game will be on NESN following an hour of pregame coverage.