If you have watched Brewers baseball this year, saying that Devin Williams has been one of the best players on the entire team would not come as a surprise to you. He has been electric as a set-up man, with a consistent fastball and his (literally) unhittable changeup, which has become one of the most deadly pitches in the MLB. To boot, he’s also averaging over two strikeouts per inning pitched.
So, how did he level up to this point?
When Williams debuted in 2019 for the Crew, he wasn’t immediately thrust into high-leverage appearances, and was not nearly as dominant as he has been in 2020. His ERA sits at just 0.53 through 15 appearances, and it was a less eye-popping 3.50 through 13 appearances last year. As mentioned previously, Williams’ changeup is the main catalyst for his breakout. He has still yet to give up a hit on that pitch.
Take a look at this three-changeup sequence from Milwaukee’s recent series against Detroit:
Williams is the latest example of an encouraging trend in Milwaukee. The Brewers’ front office and player development regime surely deserve some props, because this is not the first time a Brewers prospect has flourished at the big league level as a reliever. Two-time reigning NL Reliever of the year Josh Hader is an obvious example, but Corey Knebel pre-Tommy John surgery as well as Corbin Burnes, who has since joined the starting rotation and is having a great bounce-back year, are also examples of young arms who have prospered in relief roles for the Brewers.
There won’t be an all-star game in this pandemic-shortened season, but if there were, Williams would almost surely make the cut. Everywhere you look, there’s more and more mind-blowing stats about Williams’ dominance this season, such as his 83.0 mph average exit velocity, which is the lowest in all of baseball. Hitters have simply looked baffled when facing Williams, much like when they face Williams’ bullpen mate, Josh Hader.
If Williams and Hader continue their dominance out of the bullpen, and Milwaukee starts to find more consistent offense from their key hitters like Christian Yelich and Keston Hiura, we might be in for another patented Milwaukee Brewers September Surge.