Adrian Houser‘s 2021 regular season ended with another great performance against the St. Louis Cardinals, finally ending the 17 game winning streak. With the three aces the Brewers have atop their rotation, it is easy to overlook the success that Adrian Houser had as well.
After what seemed like years of expecting Houser would finally breakout and become a consistently great starter, 2021 was finally his year. He finished the regular season with an impressive 3.22 ERA in 28 starts, pitching 141.2 innings.
Adrian Houser was finally able to tap into his potential this season and finished 2021 with an impressive campaign that saw him emerge as a consistent starter for the Brewers.
Houser continued to thrive at inducing ground balls, finishing the season with a 59.0% ground ball percentage, second to only Logan Webb (61.7%) (min 140 innings).
That ground ball tendency helped him to allow only 0.76 HR/9, good enough for 7th lowest among pitchers who threw a minimum of 140 innings. Houser’s barrel% allowed of 5.2% places him in 86th percentile, and his HardHit% against of 35.9% placed him in the 70th percentile.
Part of Houser’s success was a further reliance on his sinker, which he threw 53.6% of the time. That increase in sinkers came with a decline in both his 4-Seam fastball and slider.
The Sinker had a -20 Run Value, which clocks in as the 8th most valuable pitch in baseball, and the best sinker overall. Opponents slugged only .271 against it, and a wOBA of .288.
Houser’s breakout has come without a reliance on strikeouts, striking out only 6.64/9 innings. His walks also saw an increase walking 4.06/9 innings. He seems to have greatly benefited from the beefed up defense behind him.
Despite the great steps forward that Houser took, he is either the 4th or 5th best starter the Brewers have, which is not a knock on him, but more so a testament to the Brewers’ ability to create an environment where pitchers can thrive. In most years in franchise history, a 3.22 ERA as a starter would make one an ace. But this year, he might not even make the postseason rotation with that performance.
While his role in the postseason is yet to be determined, and he vert well could end up pitching out the bullpen, Houser’s transformation is one that needs to be praised and recognized.
The Brewers and many others believed this breakout was coming for a long time. His initial rotation stints didn’t go as well, but through the ups and downs, Houser has broken out as a quality starting pitcher in Milwaukee with his 2021 performance.