Tanner Houck allowed one unearned run on one hit in his second major league start, in Boston’s 10-2 win over the Yankees on Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston. Steven Senne/Associated Press

It’s time to think about the Red Sox starting rotation.

Most of us have spent the summer avoiding such thoughts. After all, this year’s Sox starters have been bad. Historically bad. But for the first time since 2019 there is reason to believe things will get better.

Tanner Houck is the biggest reason why. The 24-year old rookie has been outstanding in two starts for the Red Sox. After striking out seven batters in five shutout innings in his eye-opening major league debut last week, he showed that same confidence on Sunday against the Yankees.

Facing a New York team that had won 10 straight games and was 9-0 against the Red Sox, Houck was once again dominant, giving up just one unearned run in six innings.

Houck is used to expectations. He was drafted in the first round out of the University of Missouri and was the first Red Sox starter to strike out seven or more batters in a shutout MLB debut since Eduardo Rodriguez five years ago.

The big right hander has a lot of poise and wasn’t afraid to aggressively attack a Yankees team that had averaged 8.5 runs a game in the 10 games prior to Sunday’s matchup.

“As long as you go out there and attack the zone I think good things happen,” Houck said before the start. “If you go right at people and get them on their heels early, it sets up a lot more. Typically, whenever you’re behind in the count, in hitter’s counts, a lot of people become more dangerous. I’m going to go out there and attack right away and I’ll definitely feel real confident.”

Doesn’t sound like a 24-year old. Sounds like a young man who wants to stay in the big leagues for years to come.

The opening is definitely there. The Sox have been desperately seeking starting help in 2020. The search continues Tuesday night when Nick Pivetta makes his Boston debut. Pivetta was one of the two starting pitchers acquired from the Phillies in the trade that sent Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to Philadelphia.

Pivetta, a 27-year old righty, has spent a good part of the last four years pitching in the majors, alternating between the starting rotation and the bullpen. The Sox look at him as a starter, and have stretched him out in their alternate training site in Pawutcket and hope he can be a part of the rotation next season.

Nathan Eovaldi has looked healthy in his last two starts, striking out 11 without walking a batter. He hit 100 mph in his last start. Martin Perez has been healthy all season, leading the team with 11 starts.

There are still questions surrounding Eduardo Rodriguez (COVID-induced myocarditis) and Chris Sale (Tommy John surgery). Neither threw a pitch this season.

Even if both are back, the Red Sox will need to add arms. There’s no doubt Chaim Bloom will be busy in the free agent and trade markets as he looks for more help. And depth. The Sox have used 15 starting pitchers this year, the most in baseball. That’s a startling reminder that you never have enough pitching.

They certainly didn’t have enough this year. Yet Houck’s performance this week represents a quicker route out of the deep trouble they have been in. We’ll see if Pivetta can be part of that escape, too.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column runs on Tuesdays in the Portland Press Herald.

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