Brewers starter listed as potential Angels trade target

Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Adrian Houser (37) throws during the first inning of the game
Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Adrian Houser (37) throws during the first inning of the game / MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

The Milwaukee Brewers have more starting pitchers than slots in their rotation after signing Wade Miley to a one-year deal. Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta are locks to be a part of the rotation, and they create one of the better trios in baseball. Wade Miley figures to be in the rotation as well, as the fourth or fifth starter.

The final spot is up in the air. Eric Lauer and Aaron Ashby are two lefties who will fight for a spot. Lauer is coming off a really promising 2022 campaign. Ashby is younger and was pretty highly touted and he showed some promise.

Adrian Houser is a starter who seems to have lost a rotation spot. With that in mind, he's likely on the market. The Angels were listed as one of the potential suitors on MLBTradeRumors.

Trading for Adrian Houser would be unproductive for the Angels

With free agency thinning, the starting pitching options are limited. The Angels would benefit greatly by acquiring a sixth starter to round out the rotation. While Houser would fit that role, I think they can do better with what's left in free agency, or find another trade.

Houser is a sinkerballer who's supposed to generate a ton of groundball outs. He'd fit in well in that regard with some of the pitchers the Angels have. While that's not a bad thing, he wasn't particularly great at generating grounders this past season.

Houser's ground ball rate went from 60.5% in 2021 and 59.9% in the shortened 2020 season to just 47.5% this past season. His flyball and line drive rates were up, which for a pitcher who relies on his sinker, isn't great.

Opponents hit .298 with a .310 xBA against that pitch that he threw 47.7% of the time. Just not a great look for the 29 year old.

Houser had a rough year overall. He went 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 22 appearances (21 starts) for the Brewers. He allowed 103 hits in 102.2 innings pitched and he walked an unacceptable 4.1 batters per nine. In addition to the high hits and walks totals, he struck out just 6.0 batters per nine.

Houser ranked in the 20th percentile in hard-hit rate, the 20th percentile in walk rate, the 9th percentile in xBA, and the 1st percentile in whiff rate according to baseball savant. He allowed hard contact, had a high walk rate and didn't generate swings and misses. None of this projects well for him.

The Angels do need a sixth starter and getting one who's projected to make $3.6 million in 2023 with an extra year of control looks good on the surface, but digging deeper, they can ado better. Even if they spend more on a free agent like Zack Greinke, Michael Wacha, or Johnny Cueto, that'd make more sense to me.

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