RHP Adrian Houser: B+
Adrian Houser's journey in the baseball world has been a rollercoaster, and last year marked one of its lowest points for the sinker baller. Heading into this season, he was pegged as a reliever/spot starter, a role that seemed a far cry from his earlier aspirations. Yet, by the season's end, Houser not only reclaimed his spot but excelled as a backend starting pitcher.
In 23 starts, he posted a respectable 4.12 ERA (3.99 FIP) and a 1.392 WHIP. Despite facing criticism from fans, Houser turned in a solid performance, showcasing his resilience. The challenge with Houser has always been navigating the fine line between brilliance and blow-up games. He could deliver five innings or even five starts of excellence, only to be marred by one bad outing that bloats his ERA and, in turn, hurts his public perception.
This trend has been a recurring theme in Houser's career, contributing to the fluctuations in his stat lines. However, despite the ups and downs, Houser remains an underrated asset. The start of 2023 saw him climbing back from the depths of a lackluster 2022 performance. Notably, he honed his ability to handle left-handed batters, an area that had posed challenges in the past.
Milwaukee's 15-8 record in games where Houser took the mound speaks volumes about his effectiveness as an incredibly formidable backend starter. If he can smooth out the kinks that lead to big innings or blow-up games, and if fans shift from judging him with Corbin Burnes goggles to backend starter goggles, they would recognize him as a great backend pitcher.
In essence, the 2023 season showcased a mix of challenges and triumphs for the Brewers' starting rotation. Each player faced unique circumstances, and the grades reflect not just statistical performances but the context in which they unfolded. While some may not be happy that most of the grades were good, the starting pitching was overall solid this season, these grades reflect that.