The calendar has officially switched to August and the Milwaukee Brewers find themselves in a great position in the standings. However, one big impeding factor recently has been the health of their players due landing them on the COVID IL. So far the bullpen has been impacted the most.
Initially this all began when Christian Yelich and Jace Peterson were placed on the IL. Shortly afterwards, Jake Cousins, Jandel Gustave, and Hunter Strickland joined them. Lastly, as of August 2nd, superstar closer Josh Hader was placed on IL due to COVID-19.
Whether or not it was a lucky coincidence, over the course of the past few days the Brewers have added three relievers to their team. The team landed RHP John Curtis from Miami and acquired LHP Daniel Norris from Detroit prior to the trade deadline. Post deadline, the Brewer reunited with former closer John Axford.
Many players will be expected to step up during the absence of their fellow teammates. One player this perhaps impacts the most is Devin Williams, who likely will fill in as the Brewers temporary closer.
In 75 career outings, Williams is yet to record a save, however he has the stuff to be a MLB closer. Although he has not been as un-hittable in 2021 as compared to his rookie season, he still has been very good. On the year he has a 2.72 ERA and has struck out 58 batters in 36 innings pitched. This is good enough for a 14.4 strikeouts per nine ratio.
The changeup continues to be Williams signature pitch and he throws it 61% of the time. 49 of his 58 strikeouts have come via the changeup. Opposing batters are hitting just .163 against it and are whiffing 46% of the time.
In general he has not been as efficient with his pitches this year and often times ends up throwing a high amount of pitches. Should a save situation arise with Hader on the mend, this may make for a stressful situation. However, you should be assured that over his last 19 appearances Williams has allowed just two earned runs and currently has a streak of nine scoreless in a row.
Unfortunately, we do not know how long or short these players will be out while on the COVID IL. The minimum number of days on the COVID IL is 10 but depending upon test results and symptoms it could be longer.
Craig Counsell typically sets his players up to succeed. With a bunch of moving pieces and new faces he currently has his work cut out for him, so it will be interesting to see how he manages his bullpen with so many players out.