After the year he had in 2020, it was hard to imagine reigning NL Reliever of the Year/Rookie of the Year Devin Williams being anything but dominant once again for the Brewers in 2021. Yet, that hasn’t quite been the case to start this season.
The righty with the golden changeup had given up an earned run in each of his first two outings in 2021, carrying a 10.80 ERA into Monday night’s matchup with the Cubs. Though he had his first scoreless outing last night, he gave up two walks along the way and didn’t look fully sharp by his standards.
As a result, manager Craig Counsell apparently decided to reassess how to best utilize Williams out of the bullpen moving forward. Per Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, the Brewers will, in fact, be taking a different approach with his appearances for the time being.
Not assuming that Williams will be coming into a tight game before closer Josh Hader will be an adjustment for Brewers fans who have come to look forward to his eye-opening outings. But the move could make sense as the team looks to get him more on track.
Removing Brewers reliever Devin Williams from primarily pitching high-leverage outings will hopefully help him turn things around quickly.
In 2020, Williams had one of the better seasons as a reliever in Brewers history. But that all came screeching to a halt when it was announced that Williams would miss the team’s Wild Card matchup against the Dodgers due to an arm injury, a series in which Milwaukee would be swept in two games.
Williams spent the offseason rehabbing the injury and his progress resulted in Milwaukee taking some time to ramp him up over the spring. It wouldn’t be until March 20th before he would finally make his Cactus League debut.
He did alright, giving up just a hit, a run, and three walks over four appearances this spring. But it’s possible that the limited action leading up to the regular season didn’t quite have him ready to go full throttle.
Though it’s a small sample size, you can see that somewhat when you look at his pitch velocities so far. While other Brewers pitchers are seeing velocity increases, Williams is sitting around one mile per hour down across his entire pitch repertoire.
By putting Williams on more of a schedule, it will allow him to possibly work his way up to his more dominant-looking self. And that’s easier to do when pitchers like J.P. Feyereisen and Brad Boxberger have shown they can handle the load in the meantime.
Williams will probably be fine once he has a chance to shake off a little more of that offseason rust. For the entertainment sake of Brewers fans, let’s hope it happens nice and quickly.