After a slow start, Williams was enjoying a great 2021 campaign. In 54 innings he had a 2.50 ERA and was striking batters out at a 14.5 K:9 clip. He was the Brewers 8th inning set up man to closer Josh Hader.
For Williams, he will now miss out on playing in the postseason for consecutive seasons. In 2020, he was sidelined with shoulder inflammation and did not participate in the Brewers Wild Card Round against the Los Angeles Dodgers. This year, the injury was completely avoidable.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time in the franchise’s history that an elite reliever has been injured late in the season. For fans that remember the 1982 season, losing a top reliever late in the season in the franchise’s only World Series appearance to date may feel like deja vu.
Of course I’m reference the Brewers losing reigning AL MVP + Cy Young Rollie Fingers early in September. The Brewers made the World Series that year but lost in game seven to the St. Louis Cardinals. Following the loss, Cecil Cooper was quoted saying “If Rollie had been healthy, the Brew Crew would be World Series champs.”
For the 2021 Brewers, losing Devin William hurts and makes their path to winning a World Series much harder.
Entering today, Fangraphs gave the Brewers an 11.7% chance to win the world series. Baseball reference had the Brewers at 12.4% favorites and WynnBET had them with the fifth best odds at +800. For a team in which the pitching staff is their strength, losing one of their best arms will decrease their odds at winning it all.
This is not to say that it is impossible for the Brewers to win the World Series. Rather their path will be much more difficult. Recently, in the NBA realm, the Milwaukee Bucks overcame key injuries to Donte DiVincenzo and star Giannis Antetokounmpo but still managed to become NBA Champions.
Baseball is obviously a completely different sport and pitchers cannot go out and throw as efficiently or effectively when constantly on short rest. Thankfully, the Brewers have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball and have a manager that is always exploring options. This should instill confidence that Craig Counsell will find ways to get his best pitchers in the game when it matters the most.
Hopefully upon the conclusion of the season, the end result will be different than the 1982 team. Fingers was the teams best reliever/closer that year and thankfully the Brewers will still have their best reliver/closer Josh Hader for this post-season run.
As mentioned, the injury to Williams will make the path to the World Series much harder, but not impossible.