Tanner Houck
Tanner Houck is proving he’s a special talent. Houck is proving difficult to hit and entrenching himself as a future building block in Boston. (Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Tanner Houck Proving He’s A Special Talent

The Red Sox need pitching. If Boston is going to become competitive again, the entire pitching staff needs a facelift. The good news the Red Sox rebuild looks like it’s headed in the right direction. Boston needs arms like Garrett Whitlock, Nick Pivetta, and Tanner Houck to hit if they’re going to take the next step forward. When it pertains to Houck, Boston should not only feel encouraged, but there’s a chance the former first round pick from Missouri turns into a star.

Houck, 24, was the 24th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. It took a long time for the Mizzou product to make his way to the big leagues. It didn’t take long for the 6-foot-5 right-handed starter to make a strong impression. In three outings during the shortened 2020 season, Houck threw 17 innings while sporting a 0.53 ERA. That included a 0.882 WHIP and 11.1 K per 9 rate. It doesn’t get better than that debuting in the majors.

Coming into the 2021 season, Houck just decided he was going to become even filthier. Houck has always had sick stuff but whatever adjustments he made during the offseason did wonders. The season is young but the Sox young starter increased his fastball velocity from 92.8 mph to 94.6. His sinker velo has also increased from 90.9 mph to 93.7.

Houck has a disgusting slider. Houck has turned his already filthy slider into something that looks like it comes from Mars. Houck’s wipeout, crossfire slider increased his average horizontal break up to 15.9 inches from 13.9 in 2020. That’s 9.2 inches higher than league average. Houck is up there throwing literally frisbees and nobody knows how to hit it.

Houck entered the season as Boston’s No. 7 prospect per MLB Pipeline. He’s down at the alternate training site at the moment but he won’t be there long. It’s only a matter of time before he’s a linchpin in the Red Sox starting rotation. It’s hard to find pitchers with this kind of stuff. This isn’t soft toss salad. Houck throws constant cheese and that slinging frisbee comes at you more than 40% of the time. Lefty or righty, good luck picking that puppy up.

Tanner Houck is a big part of the Red Sox rebuild. He’s blossoming into a prime time big league arm quickly. Sure, it’s a small sample size but it’s hard to ignore the talent here. The Red Sox have a good one.