Houser’s changeup has natural sinking action and is firmer than most but batters nevertheless had trouble squaring it up in 2019, as the pitch resulted in only a 4.3% barrel-rate and an average 82.5 mph exit-velocity. While he throws the pitch only 7% of the time, it’s 15.1% swinging-strike rate is the highest among his four pitches.
A curveball with very little spin on it, Houser was able to utilize the pitch to get a lot of strikeouts looking (29.9% strikeout rate, 30.6% swinging % with only 6.4% swinging-strike rate on it). He hung a lot of the curveballs up in the zone and more than likely should have punished more, so moving forward expect this pitch to get punished unless a pitch-mix change is made.
Utilizing his sinker more than his fastball in 2019 helped Houser’s fastball play up, having a higher groundball rate and swinging-strike rate with it than 2018. It mroe than likely deserved a better fate in 2019 as it had a.313 BABIP.
Thrown around 12% of the time, Houser’s slider is thrown harder than most—averaging 88 mph—and gets less depth than other sliders, averaging around 30 inches of drop according to Baseball Savant. However, its 3.9 inches of break to his arm side was 16% higher than the average slider in 2019. New to his arsenal this season, the slider wasn’t Houser’s most effective pitch, getting barreled at an 11.5% rate, the highest of any of his pitches.
With the pitch sitting at 94.2 mph, Houser has shown good velocity on his fastball, and it profiles as his best pitch, according to FanGraphs’ tool grades (60 value). Still, the offering has both below-average horizontal and vertical movement.
This was his slowest offering at 80.8 mph. The curveball showed below-average horizontal movement at just five inches away from a righty (average horizontal movement was 10 inches). And slightly above-average drop at 56 inches (54 inches was the league average). This was his third pitch, as it had a 45 tool grade, per FanGraphs.
At 84.7 mph, Houser’s changeup has good differential from his fastball, which sits at 94.2 mph. It showed average horizontal movement at 13 inches toward a righty and slightly above-average drop at 34 inches (32 inches was the league average). The changeup looks to be his second-best offering, according to FanGraphs’ tool grades (55 value).