Tanner Houck 2024

absintheofmalaise

too many flowers
Dope
SoSH Member
Mar 16, 2005
23,766
The gran facenda
Using the above post as the jumping off point to discuss Houck this season to see how he performs with the bailey pitching philosophy.

Yes, it was against the lowly A's last night, but baby steps.
In 2023 Houck just wasn't effective third time through the order. Depending on how he did in the first inning, that was usually in the fourth or fifth inning. Here are his by inning splits for 2023 from Baseball Reference.
80355
Here's the pitch chart from 2023 from Baseball Savant
80356
And from last night. He didn't throw any 4 seam fastballs. We'll see if that is something he felt he just didn't need last night or if that is also part of how they want him to pitch now.
80357
 

Niastri

Member
SoSH Member
So far, that's two pitchers (Bello is the first, on opening day) that relied heavily on a mediocre four seamer that have abandoned the pitch.

SSS and such, but is this a glimpse into the organization's new pitching philosophy?
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
8,016
Boston, MA
Stuff has never been Houck's issue. It's how that stuff plays when a batter sees it the second or third time in a game. Maybe he can keep the cutter and splitter in his back pocket for the second half of the game. His sinker and slider are deadly and should be able to get him through the first time or two.
 

Scoops Bolling

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 19, 2007
5,897
I'm still a bit baffled why "Number of swinging strikes" isn't more prominent sabermetrically.
Do you mean specifically as in the raw number, or do you mean generally? Because if the latter, whiff rate is all over the place these days.
 

chrisfont9

Member
SoSH Member
So far, that's two pitchers (Bello is the first, on opening day) that relied heavily on a mediocre four seamer that have abandoned the pitch.

SSS and such, but is this a glimpse into the organization's new pitching philosophy?
Yep, Bailey gave a rather lengthy response to Jen McCaffrey in The Athletic (paywall):
https://theathletic.com/5384077/2024/04/02/red-sox-fastball-off-speed-pitch-usage/

He not only believes in not throwing pitches that aren't your best, he also seems to be saying that universally FBs get hit harder than off-speed stuff, so your risk drops with more offspeed usage. If you are good at it.
 

nvalvo

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
21,678
Rogers Park
Swinging strikes, not strikeouts.
I’m not certain I understand you, but that is what whiff rate measures. K% or K/9 give us strikeouts relative to batters faced or innings pitched; whiff rate (or SwStr% in fangraphs) gives us swinging strikes as a proportion of strikes.

I guess what you’re looking is something like 1-contact%, but the denominator there (at least at Fangraphs) is still swings. Maybe you want swinging strikes/pitches? I’m not aware that that number is available anywhere, but it might be.
 

nvalvo

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
21,678
Rogers Park
Yep, Bailey gave a rather lengthy response to Jen McCaffrey in The Athletic (paywall):
https://theathletic.com/5384077/2024/04/02/red-sox-fastball-off-speed-pitch-usage/

He not only believes in not throwing pitches that aren't your best, he also seems to be saying that universally FBs get hit harder than off-speed stuff, so your risk drops with more offspeed usage. If you are good at it.
His comment analogizing pitch selection to boxing was pretty interesting, I thought.

“We speak a lot about the fastball in general being a jab and equating that to boxing,” he said. “If you’re going 12 rounds or eight rounds, you’re not going to win by throwing jabs the whole time. The damage is done by throwing your haymakers in your best sequences. Jabs need to be located supremely to do any damage. So when you look at that through a baseball lens, it’s knowing where and when to use your fastballs and leveraging your best off-speed weapons to do the most damage against the hitter.​

I think the history of baseball suggests that when you’re in disadvantaged counts, your best strike pitch is a fastball from an ability standpoint and I don’t think that’s true,” he added. “I think pitchers are able to leverage off-speed weapons, if not similarly or slightly above, with some certain pitch types and depending on feel and all that, that can be a learned skill. So as long as strike-throwing is in line and our process stats are in line, our ability to leverage our best pitches in and around the zone is vital to the success of our pitching staff.”​

So it seems like a lot of what he’s trying to do is not throw *predictable* four seamers.
 

Sin Duda

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
841
(B)Austin Texas
I watched the highlights of his 10 strikeouts and I was amazed at the distance between the bat and the ball as it crossed the plate. In some cases it looked like 8 inches, and I'll bet it averaged 4". He's a magician.
 

Heating up in the bullpen

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 24, 2007
1,100
Pittsboro NC
His comment analogizing pitch selection to boxing was pretty interesting, I thought.
“We speak a lot about the fastball in general being a jab and equating that to boxing,” he said. “If you’re going 12 rounds or eight rounds, you’re not going to win by throwing jabs the whole time. The damage is done by throwing your haymakers in your best sequences. Jabs need to be located supremely to do any damage. So when you look at that through a baseball lens, it’s knowing where and when to use your fastballs and leveraging your best off-speed weapons to do the most damage against the hitter.​
I think the history of baseball suggests that when you’re in disadvantaged counts, your best strike pitch is a fastball from an ability standpoint and I don’t think that’s true,” he added. “I think pitchers are able to leverage off-speed weapons, if not similarly or slightly above, with some certain pitch types and depending on feel and all that, that can be a learned skill. So as long as strike-throwing is in line and our process stats are in line, our ability to leverage our best pitches in and around the zone is vital to the success of our pitching staff.”​

So it seems like a lot of what he’s trying to do is not throw *predictable* four seamers.
I’m a big fan of “pitching backwards.” Throw off-speed for strikes and discomfort, surprise with fastballs.
Obviously wouldn’t apply to a 99 percentile flamethrower like Clemens or NRyan. But those guys are few.
I like what Bailey’s doing. Hope they can keep it up.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
20,899
Maine
As much as the focus on Houck is his ability to get through a lineup 3 times, the most encouraging thing today was the way he bounced back from a labored first inning (24 pitches) to get to and through the 6th in under 100 pitches. They really need him to give them innings and he did.
 

YTF

Member
SoSH Member
As much as the focus on Houck is his ability to get through a lineup 3 times, the most encouraging thing today was the way he bounced back from a labored first inning (24 pitches) to get to and through the 6th in under 100 pitches. They really need him to give them innings and he did.
Agreed and the offense allowing Anderson to give the rest of the bullpen 2 days off heading into the home stand was huge as well.
 

brandonchristensen

Loves Aaron Judge
SoSH Member
Feb 4, 2012
38,555
Super encouraging start. I continue to root for him to figure things out and become a solid starter for years.
 

zenax

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 12, 2023
358
There is an article in today's New Hampshire Union Leader, ascribed to "Field Level Media" that says:

"Tanner Houck threw six scoreless innings...Sunday;...Houck (2-0) followed up his six scoreless innings in his first start with another impressive performance;...He has 17 strikeouts with only two walks in 13 scoreless innings in his two starts."

I'm trying to figure out how I got A's in Arithmetic.
 

nvalvo

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
21,678
Rogers Park
Agreed and the offense allowing Anderson to give the rest of the bullpen 2 days off heading into the home stand was huge as well.
I really like the Anderson acquisition. He's been tremendous in that role. One shy of the team lead in saves!
 

Tuor

New Member
Mar 20, 2024
10
I really like the Anderson acquisition. He's been tremendous in that role. One shy of the team lead in saves!
Anderson has been a pleasant surprise so far. His outings have been a huge improvement from the "Well, even Ort probably can't blow this lead ... or can he?" and similar experiences in the previous years. Anderson has seemed competent so far; it's been relaxing to watch him. I enjoy a nice relaxing blowout.
 

Over Guapo Grande

panty merchant
SoSH Member
Nov 29, 2005
4,508
Worcester
There is an article in today's New Hampshire Union Leader, ascribed to "Field Level Media" that says:

"Tanner Houck threw six scoreless innings...Sunday;...Houck (2-0) followed up his six scoreless innings in his first start with another impressive performance;...He has 17 strikeouts with only two walks in 13 scoreless innings in his two starts."

I'm trying to figure out how I got A's in Arithmetic.
It's the new math. Boxes and whatnot.... just go with it.
 

zenax

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 12, 2023
358
It's the new math. Boxes and whatnot.... just go with it.
Given that I keep seeing errors like this in the Globe, WAPO, and so on, I wonder what editors do today. It's not just things like that but I've seen things like [This media] apologizes for using the wrong name in the reported crime yesterday.
 

CaptainLaddie

dj paul pfieffer
SoSH Member
Sep 6, 2004
36,888
where the darn libs live
Houck with the Maddux!
I feel like a Maddux with 9 strikeouts is very hard just because you have to throw enough pitches to get deep enough in counts to get to two strikes?

So, I did the research.

Since the start of the expansion era, there have been 53 Madduxes (Maddi? Maddoux?) with at least 9 strikeouts. But there have been 706 Maddeux in that timeframe, so... yeah. It's hard! The most strikeouts was Kershaw, with 13 -- he threw 99 pitches and had 73 (!!!!) strikes. Houck actually had 94 pitches and 69 strikes, so wow. Good on Houck.

The best ratio ever in a Maddux was the immortal (and criminally underrated) Ben Sheets: 98 pitches, 79 strikes. AND HE LOST. Among winners, it's the crafty Terry Mulholland, who never had more than 142 Ks in a season and his lifetime K/9 is 4.6 -- but he had a game with 10 strikeouts and threw 98 pitches with 76 strikes (technically Carlos Carrasco has a better ratio at 97/76, but he didn't throw a CGSO like Mulholland did).
 
Last edited:

The Jogger

New Member
Jun 24, 2023
14
Cape Cod
I feel like a Maddux with 9 strikeouts is very hard just because you have to throw enough pitches to get deep enough in counts to get to two strikes?

So, I did the research.

Since the start of the expansion era, there have been 53 Madduxes (Maddi? Maddoux?) with at least 9 strikeouts. But there have been 706 Maddeux in that timeframe, so... yeah. It's hard! The most strikeouts was Kershaw, with 13 -- he threw 99 pitches and had 73 (!!!!) strikes. Houck actually had 94 pitches and 69 strikes, so wow. Good on Houck.

The best ratio ever in a Maddux was the immortal (and criminally underrated) Ben Sheets: 98 pitches, 79 strikes. AND HE LOST. Among winners, it's the crafty Terry Mulholland, who never had more than 142 Ks in a season and his lifetime K/9 is 4.6 -- but he had a game with 10 strikeouts and threw 98 pitches with 76 strikes (technically Carlos Carrasco has a better ratio at 97/76, but he didn't throw a CGSO like Mulholland did).
Terrific post -- thanks for this.
 

Tokyo Sox

Baka Gaijin
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Feb 16, 2006
6,167
There
The best ratio ever in a Maddux was the immortal (and criminally underrated) Ben Sheets: 98 pitches, 79 strikes. AND HE LOST.
I thought a Maddux was defined as a CGSO on fewer than 100 pitches. How is it possible to throw a shutout and lose?

edit: BRef tells me Sheets had 4 career shutouts, 1 in 2001 and 3 in 2008. None of them were Madduxes. I think you have your definition and/or search terms wrong.
 
Last edited:

Merkle's Boner

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 24, 2011
3,826
That’s a helluva game by Hideo Nomo. 9IP with only 1 hit and 14 Ks and 0 walks? I have no memory of that but he was a criminally underrated pitcher.
 

CaptainLaddie

dj paul pfieffer
SoSH Member
Sep 6, 2004
36,888
where the darn libs live
I thought a Maddux was defined as a CGSO on fewer than 100 pitches. How is it possible to throw a shutout and lose?

edit: BRef tells me Sheets had 4 career shutouts, 1 in 2001 and 3 in 2008. None of them were Madduxes. I think you have your definition and/or search terms wrong.
Ah, shit. I thought it was just fewer than 100 pitches and a CG? My bad. RUNNING THE NUMBERS AGAIN.
 

CaptainLaddie

dj paul pfieffer
SoSH Member
Sep 6, 2004
36,888
where the darn libs live
I feel like a Maddux with 9 strikeouts is very hard just because you have to throw enough pitches to get deep enough in counts to get to two strikes?

So, I did the research.

Since the start of the expansion era, there have been 53 Madduxes (Maddi? Maddoux?) with at least 9 strikeouts. But there have been 706 Maddeux in that timeframe, so... yeah. It's hard! The most strikeouts was Kershaw, with 13 -- he threw 99 pitches and had 73 (!!!!) strikes. Houck actually had 94 pitches and 69 strikes, so wow. Good on Houck.

The best ratio ever in a Maddux was the immortal (and criminally underrated) Ben Sheets: 98 pitches, 79 strikes. AND HE LOST. Among winners, it's the crafty Terry Mulholland, who never had more than 142 Ks in a season and his lifetime K/9 is 4.6 -- but he had a game with 10 strikeouts and threw 98 pitches with 76 strikes (technically Carlos Carrasco has a better ratio at 97/76, but he didn't throw a CGSO like Mulholland did).
Okay, thanks to @Tokyo Sox for correcting my stupid face.

Since the start of the expansion era, there have been 344 *actual* Maddicies. Among those with at least 9 strikeouts, there's only 28 of them. So even harder than I originally thought.

Fun fact, Maddux only has one of the 28 9k games (which isn't that surprising). Chris Carpenter has 2, the most of anyone. 9 of the 28 pitchers issued a walk (Carpenter issued 2 walks in one of his games), and only 1 had a HBP.
 

SouthernBoSox

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 23, 2005
12,116
The evolution of the splitter has completely changed his outlook. He threw that pitch over 30% of the time last night and it baffled hitters.

Relentless strike throwing with an elite moving fastball, slider, and split looks like something special.

He has the highest ceiling on the staff with that pitch mix and strike throwing ability.

What a joy to watch. Maybe the most pleasing pitching performance we’ve seen since peak Sale.
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

Don't know him from Adam
SoSH Member
Mar 14, 2006
9,893
Kernersville, NC
I feel like a Maddux with 9 strikeouts is very hard just because you have to throw enough pitches to get deep enough in counts to get to two strikes?

So, I did the research.

Since the start of the expansion era, there have been 53 Madduxes (Maddi? Maddoux?) with at least 9 strikeouts. But there have been 706 Maddeux in that timeframe, so... yeah. It's hard! The most strikeouts was Kershaw, with 13 -- he threw 99 pitches and had 73 (!!!!) strikes. Houck actually had 94 pitches and 69 strikes, so wow. Good on Houck.

The best ratio ever in a Maddux was the immortal (and criminally underrated) Ben Sheets: 98 pitches, 79 strikes. AND HE LOST. Among winners, it's the crafty Terry Mulholland, who never had more than 142 Ks in a season and his lifetime K/9 is 4.6 -- but he had a game with 10 strikeouts and threw 98 pitches with 76 strikes (technically Carlos Carrasco has a better ratio at 97/76, but he didn't throw a CGSO like Mulholland did).
Not to derail this too much, but Sheets was really good. He was stuck on a terrible Brewers team and became a legit top of the rotation guy in his fourth season. Unfortunately, that was really the last time he was healthy other than 4 years later when he started 31 games. Shoulder issues ended his career after 10 seasons and 250 starts. Career FIP of 3.66 and an ERA+ of 113 and still ended up below .500 for his career at 94-96.