Following their 9-1 victory over the Twins on Wednesday, the Red Sox made their fifth round of spring roster cuts and, perhaps most significantly, optioned right-hander Tanner Houck to their alternate training site in Worcester.
The lone member of Boston’s 40-man roster involved in these moves, Houck was seen as a potential candidate to crack the team’s Opening Day starting rotation, but that no longer appears to be the case.
The 24-year-old righty impressed upon getting called up by the Sox last September, posting a 0.53 ERA and 3.25 FIP over his first three starts and 17 innings pitched in the majors.
Spring training thus far has been a different story for Houck, though, as the former first-round draft pick has struggled with his command to the tune of a 4:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
He has also yielded six earned runs in just 6 1/3 innings of work through his first three appearances of the spring.
Given those struggles, as well as the fact that the club has adequate, upper-level rotation depth in the form of Matt Andriese and Garrett Whitlock, the Sox will let Houck continue to develop at the alternate site to start the new season.
This does not mean that Houck — currently regarded by Baseball America as the Red Sox’ No. 7 prospect — won’t pitch in Boston this year; it just means that his 2021 debut may come later than some may have expected.
In addition to Houck being optioned, the Sox also reassigned seven players — right-hander Daniel Gossett, left-hander Stephen Gonsalves, catcher Kole Cottam, first basemen Triston Casas and Josh Ockimey, and outfielders Jarren Duran and Yairo Munoz — to minor-league camp.
This flurry of transactions leaves the Red Sox with 35 players on their major-league spring training roster. That number does not include Chris Sale or Franchy Cordero, who both remain on the injured list.
(Picture of Tanner Houck: Mark Brown/Getty Images)