Red Sox starter Tanner Houck will undergo surgery that inserts a plate in his face next week, manager Alex Cora told the Boston beat (via Ian Browne of MLB.com). The right-hander was diagnosed with a fracture after being struck in the face by a comebacker during his start against the Yankees last Friday.
While the surgery seems like an ominous development, Cora called it “the best news we could get” (link via Alex Speier of the Boston Globe). Boston has declined to provide a timetable for Houck’s return, though Speier writes the team is confident he will pitch again this season. They placed Houck on the 15-day injured list over the weekend.
Before last week’s scary incident, the right-hander had gotten mixed results in 13 outings. He owns a middling 5.05 ERA over 67 2/3 innings. Houck’s underlying marks were better than the run prevention figure. His 22.5% strikeout rate and 8.1% walk percentage are around average for a starting pitcher, while his 49.7% grounder rate is quite strong.
As has been the case throughout his career, platoon splits tell a significant story. Left-handed batters have teed off for eight home runs with a .262/.312/.500 showing in 145 trips to the plate. Houck has absolutely dominated righty opponents, holding them to a .224/.300/.272 line with just one homer over 140 plate appearances.
The Sox have stayed committed to using Houck in the rotation after shuttling him between the starting staff and the bullpen in prior seasons. He and Garrett Whitlock both made the move to full-time starting this year, eventually bumping Corey Kluber and Nick Pivetta to relief in the process. James Paxton and Brayan Bello have secured rotation spots, while Kutter Crawford was moved to the starting staff when Chris Sale landed on the injured list a few weeks ago. Boston has yet to announce who’ll take Houck’s scheduled start against the Twins on Thursday afternoon.