Adrian Houser – 2022 ZiPS Projection: 1.9 fWAR
2021 saw Houser set career bests in ERA (3.22), innings pitched (142.1), BABIP (.259), and ground ball percentage (59%). It’s fair to say that the sinker baller benefited from a much improved infield defense last season, but he also did a good job of playing to his strengths as his sinker saw an increase in usage.
The end result in 2021 was a 1.5 fWAR. While he did develop into a consistent starter last year, his continued ability to keep the ball on the ground and sustain a low BABIP will be big determining factors into how 2022 goes. If he can improve even more next season, that is a big win for the Brewers.
Eric Lauer – 2022 ZiPS Projection: 1.0 fWAR
It took until the end of June, but at that time Eric Lauer re-entered the starting rotation and did not hold anything back. He ended up posting one of the best ERAs in the league from that point forward, so clearly something clicked. Perhaps it was an incorporation of more sliders, but Lauer successfully was avoiding barrels and showed a prolonged stretch of being a consistent starter.
That brings us to 2022, where his ZiPS projection is .7 points lower than his actual 2021 fWAR (1.7). It appears that this projection model is a bit harsh on the southpaw whom many have high hopes for this upcoming season, but he still has a lot to prove. Hopefully he can build upon his success from 2021.
To bring the Brewers starting rotation projections to a close, Szymborski’s system had prospect Ethan Small tagged at a 0.5 fWAR for 2022. Small is currently not a member of the Brewers 40 man roster, but he enjoyed a very successful 2021 minor league season and easily could earn himself a promotion if he pitches well enough at the Triple-A level.
Seeing these projections certainly gets one excited about the possibilities of the upcoming season. Of course a lot of that depends upon if the MLB and MLBPA can end the lockout in time, but if they do I would expect this Brewers starting rotation to be very good again!