Red Sox closer Tanner Houck likely to undergo back surgery

UPDATE: Before Friday’s game, Cora announced that Houck will likely undergo back surgery. He also indicated that more information will be available later Friday night or more likely on Saturday, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne.

Red Sox closer Tanner Houck may not pitch again this season, manager Alex Cora said before Thursday’s series opener against the Rangers at Fenway Park.

Houck has been on the injured list since August 6 with lower back inflammation. It was later revealed that the right-hander had a disc issue in his lower back after being examined by a spine specialist in Boston.

Following a brief period of rest and a positive response to treatment, Houck resumed playing catch last week and was slated to throw live batting practice in Worcester on Tuesday. That did not happen as scheduled, as Cora initially revealed that the 26-year-old was still dealing with “continued back soreness.”

Two days later, and Houck has been completely shut down. It remains to be seen if his 2022 campaign is now over, though Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) “there’s a good chance” when asked about that possibility.

“There’s no baseball activities,” Cora said. “He went to see a back specialist. “We’ll know more throughout the day or tomorrow.”

If Houck’s year is indeed over, the righty would have posted a 3.15 ERA and 3.31 FIP with 56 strikeouts to 22 walks over 32 appearances (four starts) spanning 60 innings of work. He began the season in Boston’s starting rotation and made those four starts before moving into the bullpen on a full-time basis on May 15.

From that point forward, Houck produced a 1.49 ERA (3.18 FIP) to go along with 33 strikeouts and 11 walks across 25 relief outings (36 1/3 innings). He also converted eight of nine save opportunities.

With Houck sidelined for the foreseeable future, Cora will have to continue to rely upon the likes of John Schreiber, Garrett Whitlock, and Matt Barnes in the late innings of games.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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