The Brewers have had generally successful bullpens in recent years. Add Devin Williams to the team’s relief corps success stories.
Of the names expected to contribute out of the bullpen for the Brewers this year, few probably saw Devin Williams being best performer of all of them. A second-round draft pick in 2013, Williams didn’t make his major league debut until 2019. Most of that can be attributed to having Tommy John surgery. Since then, he’s been a force to be reckoned with.
Going into Friday, Williams has 17 innings of work under his belt for the 2020 season. Williams has a 3-1 record, posting a 0.53 ERA and has 35 punch-outs. In a regular 162-game season, his numbers may very well have gotten him an All-Star nomination along with fellow dominating reliever Josh Hader.
For the last two years, Hader has been the winner of the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year award. When he won it for the Brewers last year, he had 37 saves, posting an ERA of 2.62 with 138 strikeouts in just over 75 innings of work.
One of the most effective tactics that Williams has been using on the mound is a two-pitch mix that includes a fastball in the high 90s and a changeup that’s straight up nasty. Praised by many, Williams’ change-up is ranked one of the best in baseball in total movement to average according to StatCast. According to FanGraphs, Devin Williams’ change-up had the sixth highest velocity differential from changeup to fastball as of September 3rd.
Opponents facing Williams’s changeup are 0-for-39 with 26 strikeouts on the season. Per David Adler of MLB.com, even teammates such as Brent Suter have tried to copy the righty’s change-up, but have had no luck. It’s easy to see why when you see how much opposing batters struggle against it.
The emergence of Devin Williams has been a huge help to Milwaukee as the team as a whole has seemed to have their on and off days all season. Most of this has been a result of the team’s inconsistent offense. But when they have performed well enough to hand the ball over to the bullpen with a lead, the relievers have shown to be very reliable, with Williams leading the way.
The discussions of the Cy Young, NL Reliever of the Year, and Rookie of the Year have been buzzing lately but Williams often gets left out of the conversation. Being a reliever, Cy Young Award is very likely a longshot. But in terms of Rookie of the Year or NL Reliever of the Year, Devin Williams should definitely be in consideration.
Williams’s work this season has been something else and no one else is throwing the ball like he is. It’s why the former prospect might just add another NL Reliever of the Year award to the Brewer history books.