Milwaukee Brewers: Adrian Houser 2019 Season Report Card

Our 2019 report cards continue with a pitcher whose performance very likely secured himself a big role on the Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff next year.

Though he didn’t make the team out of Spring Training, it was widely expected that Adrian Houser would see some action with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019. What wasn’t known was whether that action would be as a starter as a reliever.

It turned out that Houser would be used in both capacities. As a reliever, he was near dominant, but as a starter, at first anyway, the results were mixed. By the end of the year, though, he was arguably Milwaukee’s second most reliable starter outside of Jordan Lyles. Combined, Houser’s 2019 performance earns him high marks.

The Good

After a spot start in April that was underwhelming and saw him sent right back down to the minors, Houser was recalled to the Brewers on May 3rd, this time as a reliever. Houser had done well in the minors to that point with a very nice 1.27 ERA through four starts. But the Milwaukee Brewers were still tinkering with their bullpen and decided to give Houser a shot there.

From there, Houser took the new role and ran with it, putting up numbers as good, if not better than his stellar ones in the minors. In 15 games over almost two months, he had a sparkling 0.98 ERA in 27 2/3 innings with a 1.01 WHIP and .189 batting average by opponents. He gave up earned runs in just 2 of the 15 outings and was a ground ball machine, inducing them at a 60% clip.

After another brief failed experiment in the rotation, Houser pitched three more outings out of the bullpen with two of them being scoreless. But with injuries in the rotation and trade deadline acquisition Lyles not quite having joined the team yet, Houser was moved back to the rotation one more time. This time, things clicked.

Houser gave up just one earned run each in six of his first seven starts starting with his five inning, one earned run outing against the A’s on July 30th. Things evened out a bit in the final month of the season, but all things said he was still very steady, compiling a 3.28 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP over 12 starts to end the season.

The Bad

It’s hard to knock Houser’s performance as a reliever as the numbers were consistently quite good. Prior to his final stretch in the rotation, though, his numbers as a starter left much to be desired.

His spot start on April 22nd in his first call up of the year was rough, to say the least, as he gave up five earned runs over four innings while serving up two dingers. His second stint in the rotation, four starts between June 26th and July 15th, weren’t particularly better. It saw him give up at least three earned runs in each start and only go slightly more than four innings per start.

Altogether, over those five starts, Houser racked up a whopping 7.83 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, and a not-so-great .360 opponents’ BA with batters also reaching a scary OPS of 1.043. Luckily, those five starts wouldn’t be a sign of things to come.

Final Grade: B+

When you put it all together, it’s hard to complain about the output from a pitcher who didn’t even make the Opening Day roster. Over 111 1/3 innings, Houser finished with a 3.72 ERA and a 3.88 FIP that proves that his year was no fluke. His 1.24 WHIP and .244 opponents’ batting average were very respectable as well.

Houser’s strong finish to the season as a starter is important as the Milwaukee Brewers look to make roster decisions for next year. The team started the year with the approach of using young, unproven starters and the experiment largely failed. Knowing that you have someone like Houser who’s proven he has what it takes to start, or at worst can excel in the bullpen in the event the Brewers sign multiple starters, is huge.

Next: Travis Shaw Season Report Card

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Whether it’s as a starter or as a reliever, Adrian Houser will most likely have a spot on the Milwaukee’s roster in 2020. Based on this year’s performance, the Brewers should be in good shape no matter what route they take.

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