Boston Red Sox 2021 Player Preview: Tanner Houck


The Syndicate's Red Sox Writers and Red Sox Podcast to be Named Later hosts will be profiling a different Red Sox player each day to get you ready for the 2021 season.

Today's featured player: Tanner Houck

Photo courtesy of

The rookie pitcher got the call-up to the major leagues in the last two weeks of the 2020 season and was extremely impressive in three starts, going 3-0 with a 0.53 ERA.

Back of the baseball card:

  • Position: Pitcher
  • Age: 24 (turns 25 on June 29)
  • Bats: Right / Throws: Right
  • Height: 6-5 / Weight: 230 lbs. 
  • Nickname: n/a
  • How acquired: Selected in the first round (24th overall) of the 2017 June Amateur Draft
  • Contract status: Under team control through 2027
  • Ranked #3 in the Red Sox Top Prospect List.

 2020 Highlights: 

  • Houck made his Major League debut on September 15 in Miami against the playoff bound Marlins.  Houck silenced the Marlins offense, pitching five shutout innings and striking out seven.  He was credited with the win as the bullpen held the lead en route to a 2-0 Red Sox win.
  • Houck followed up his impressive debut five days later with his Fenway Park debut against another playoff-bound team, the powerful New York Yankees.  Unfazed, Houck three six more shutout innings, allowing only one hit, to pick up the second win of his career.
  • In his season finale, Houck faced his third playoff-bound potent offensive attack in the Atlanta Braves.  Houck finally surrendered his first earned run as a starter on a home run to Dansby Swanson.  But that was all the potent Braves offense could muster against the rookie.  Houck threw six innings and struck out ten to gain his third victory.

Red Sox Podcast to be Named Player Outlook:

As impressive as Houck’s performance was after being called up from the alternate site in Pawtucket, the return of Eduardo Rodriguez and the addition of Garret Richards, coupled with the fact that Nick Pivetta is out of options, makes it likely Houck will start the season in AAA Worcester. 

Though he started in his three appearances in the majors, Houck projects as a back of the bullpen piece.  He has two quality pitches, but will have to develop a third to be higher than a number four or five starter.  Houck’s fastball sits in the mid 90’s, topping out at 98 MPH, though command has been an issue.  He also carries a plus slider in his arsenal which is tough on right-handed hitters given his three quarter arm slot.  He is reportedly working on developing a consistent splitter as his third pitch.

Starting the season in Worcester will give Houck and opportunity to work on his fastball command and further develop his splitter for when he gets re-called to the big club.  This will also allow the Red Sox to limit his service time and extend control of Houck for an additional year, assuming there are no changes to the arbitration/free agency rules in the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.


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Boston Sports Syndicate: Boston Red Sox 2021 Player Preview: Tanner Houck
Boston Red Sox 2021 Player Preview: Tanner Houck
Boston Sports Syndicate
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