Our season report card series continues. Here we will be looking at starting pitcher Adrian Houser.
Adrian Houser quietly carved out a career year as a starting pitcher in 2021. There are multiple reasons why his contributions may have been overlooked. Corbin Burnes pitched at a Cy Young level with Brandon Woodruff not too far behind, Freddy Peralta emerged as a starter, and even Eric Lauer was one of the best pitchers in the MLB during the second half of the season.
Additionally, of the Brewers pitching accomplishments last season most will remember the combined no-hitter or Burnes striking out ten consecutive batters. However, let’s not forget that it was Adrian Houser who threw the first complete game shutout since 2014. That performance against the Cardinals in early September was very impressive. He attacked the strike zone all night for 76 of out of 100 pitches went for strikes and he faced just 29 batters.
A look at the season statistics
Overall, Houser was an effective innings eater for manager Craig Counsell. Eight out of 26 starts, or 30%, went at least six innings. However, he also had eight starts fail to go a minimum of five innings and the remaining ten starts were somewhere in between.
On the year, Houser covered 142 innings and managed a 3.22 ERA. Opposing batters grounded out 60% of the time against him, in large part due to him utilizing his sinker more and 4 seam fastball less. In 2021, he increased his sinker usage by 10% and decreased his 4 seam fastball by 7%.
The ability to keep the ball on the ground payed dividends for Houser in 2021. He managed to generate weak contact from opposing batters 7.6% of the time, which is more than double when compared to the league average of 3.7%. Of course, having a much improved defense behind him when compared to seasons prior helped greatly as well.
All-in-all, Houser performed a lot better than expected, which is something to take into consideration when giving him a season grade. To be regarded as the teams fifth or sixth starter with a 3.22 ERA is crazy. He is now entering his first season of arbitration and is projected to have a salary of $2.3MM in 2022.