It’s easy to overlook Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Adrian Houser.
He works in the back end of a rotation along with strikeout phenoms Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff. All three own a K/9 of 11+, and Peralta ranks second in all of baseball with 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
Whiffs aren’t as common in a game started by Houser, who has logged 31 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings (7.9 K/9) and seven starts this season. Houser throws his sinker 54.9% of the time and mixes in a curveball, four-seam fastball, changeup and slider.
Unsurprisingly, the sinker has been Houser’s best pitch this season. Statcast measures it at a run value of -9, which is the sixth-best mark in all of baseball. Only Trevor Bauer’s four-seamer (-13), Carlos Rodon’s four-seamer (-11), John Means’ changeup (-10) and Yu Darvish’s slider (-10) have a better run value. Kevin Gausman’s four-seam fastball also stands at a -9.
Opposing hitters are batting .216 against the pitch, with an average exit velocity of 91.7 mph and just three extra-base hits -- all doubles. Houser has recorded 17 of his 31 strikeouts with the sinker.
Among starting pitchers with at least five starts this season, Houser ranks first with a ground-ball percentage of 64.2% (meaning, of all balls put in play against Houser, nearly two-thirds of them have been in the dirt). That’s the highest clip in baseball, beating out San Francisco’s Alex Wood (63.5%) and Chicago White Sox left-hander Dallas Keuchel (60.4%).
Additionally, opponents have an average launch angle of -1.0 this season, which is the lowest against any pitcher with 5+ starts.
So, although Houser isn’t making MLB history like Burnes, he’s still been effective and keeping Milwaukee in ball games by inducing ground balls.
He’ll get the start Friday night against Drew Smyly when the Brewers (20-18) begin a three-game series against Atlanta (17-20) at American Family Field.
-- Brewers shortstop Luis Urias is happy to be home. Urias owns a .127 batting average on the road but .288 at American Family Field, the fifth-biggest differential in baseball. Three of his four multi-hit efforts have been at home.
-- The last five series between Milwaukee and Atlanta have been won by the home team, dating back to 2017.
-- Since 2020, a league-high 42% of Atlanta’s hits have gone for extra bases.
-- Outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. leads the Braves in homers (12), RBI (24) and batting average (.302). He’s one of just four players in 2021 to lead his team in all three categories.
Statistics courtesy Sportradar, Statcast