The rotating star trio of the Milwaukee Brewers formed by the right-handers Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and the Dominican Freddy Peralta it has attracted much deserved attention. Burnes won the National League Cy Young Award for Excellence in 2021. Woodruff and Peralta were well-deserved All-Star selections, with the former also receiving a solid amount of Cy Young support.
Essentially, no one else in the league can match that kind of firepower at the top of the rotation. But Burnes, Woodruff and Peralta weren’t the only Milwaukee starters to perform well in 2021. The fourth and fifth starters, Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer, They may not have been as electric as their rotation buddies, but they’re both overqualified for back-end roles:
Houser pitched a 3.22 ERA in a career-high 142 1/3 innings last season. Right’s 17.5% strikeout rate wasn’t impressive, but Houser is a treadmill that has had a decent amount of success despite mediocre whiff rates throughout his career.
He has a solid 3.78 ERA since the start of 2019, showing a knack for suppressing opponents’ exit speeds and keeping the ball on the field.
Lauer came from the Padres as part of the young outfielder Trent Grisham – Luis Urías trade during the 2019-20 offseason. He barely pitched in the majors during his first season in Milwaukee, but the left-hander held a spot in the rotation for most of last year.
Through 118 2/3 runs, Lauer posted a 3.19 ERA that was by far the best of his career. Their strikeout and walk rates (23.9% and 8.4%, respectively) were around the respective league averages.
Unlike Houser, Lauer doesn’t excel at keeping the ball on the ground. A SIERA of 4.24 suggests he’s probably closer to a league-average rotational arm than his ERA, which corresponds to a # 2/3 starter, might suggest. Still, the league average production would be a notable improvement for the starting staff of many clubs in the league.
There are quite a few hopeful contenders expected to seek help back from the rotation to get out of the block, and there’s not much confidence with the remaining free-agent starters. Teams like the Reds and Athletics might have notable starters available, but clubs seeking baseline help might also see the Brewers as a plausible business partner.
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Milwaukee is in winning mode now, and there is a case for them to maintain their depth of rotation. Burnes, Woodruff, Peralta, Houser and Lauer each made more than 20 starts last year, and the injury risk associated with any pitcher could make having a repeat of that kind of durability in the rotation risky.
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