The Boston Red Sox are feeling pretty good about themselves right now.
The team is most likely playoff-bound in 2021, and all things considered, the future looks very bright for the franchise.
Today, we’re going to take a look at arguably the most promising pitcher in the Red Sox organization.
His name is Tanner Houck, and you’ve probably already heard of him.
The University of Missouri product is making an impact at the big-league level this season, and that’s something Red Sox fans should get used to.
For a team that hasn’t had a lot of success developing pitchers over the years, Houck looks like a diamond in the rough for Boston.
Here’s everything you need to know about his 2021 season so far.
Houck’s Odd Journey In 2021
It has been a wild ride for Houck in 2021.
He made his MLB debut toward the end of the 2020 season, and fans loved what they saw.
Over three starts, the youngster pitched to a sparkling 0.53 ERA.
He allowed just two runs over 17 innings, striking out 21 batters along the way.
The Red Sox—who had a miserable 2020 season—went 3-0 in his starts.
There was a lot of excitement about the righty.
Tanner Houck, 2020: 17 IP, ER, 21K, 3-0 pic.twitter.com/7XXGvop6ij
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) September 27, 2020
So, as you might expect, he started the 2021 season on the MLB roster.
He made three appearances and pitched to a decent 4.35 ERA.
Oddly, he was optioned to the Alternate Training Site toward the end of April.
It wasn’t just a roster-manipulation move, either.
The plan was to keep him down there for a while.
The move confused some fans, and things got even worse for Houck when he suffered a flexor strain a few weeks later.
The injury took more than a month to heal.
Once he was back to full health, Boston had no choice but to call him up, as the big-league rotation was falling apart at the seams.
The 25-year-old rejoined the team on July 16.
He has been a savior since then, posting a 2.21 ERA over five outings.
Tanner Houck is the right handed Chris Sale, N A S T Y. pic.twitter.com/FyStX0AdvO
— Boston Strong (@BostonStrong_34) July 29, 2021
Funny enough, he still keeps getting optioned (and promptly recalled) between outings to create an extra roster spot on days he’s not scheduled to start.
That’s just the way things go if you’re a youngster in the baseball world.
Ultimately, he figures to be with the big-league club for the remainder of the year and beyond.
The former first-rounder could even find himself thrust into a role in the postseason in 2021 if the stars align.
Houck looks like the next big thing for Boston.
The team has had the pleasure of developing some outstanding young position players over the years, but as mentioned earlier, the same cannot be said about the organization’s development of pitchers.
Houck looks like an exception to that trend.
When he was drafted, most scouting reports pegged him as a back-of-the-rotation arm.
Based on the results has produced so far, he is going to exceed those projections.
And statistics aside, he passes the eye test.
His fastball can touch 98 on the gun, and he complements it with an outstanding slider.
Tanner Houck, 96mph Fastball (called strike) and 86mph Slider (swinging K), Overlay. pic.twitter.com/eMzDircOVt
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 29, 2021
His 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame is the cherry on top.
Developing a third pitch is going to be the next step, and doing so will likely be a priority this offseason.
With his current two-pitch combo, he often has a tough time getting through the batting order the third time around.
If he does add one more pitch to his arsenal, don’t be surprised if he evolves into an All-Star-caliber starting pitcher in the near future.