Devin “The Changeup Whisperer” Williams made a name for himself in 2020, during a season in which he was crowned the National League Rookie of the Year, National League Reliever of the Year, and All-MLB Second Team.
No reliever had won a Rookie of the Year award since Craig Kimbrel for Atlanta in 2011, and no reliever had ever won in either league without recording at least one save.
“Mr. Lights Out” is having another impressive season in year number two for the Milwaukee Brewers. There’s no question that Williams has been the go to guy for the Brewers out of the bullpen in 2021. The numbers don’t lie.
Devin Williams on picking up Freddy last night: "It was a good group effort from literally everyone that's in the pen." #ThisIsMyCrew@SophiaMinnaert with lots of insight. ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/5ZyTjsmlqC
— Bally Sports Wisconsin (@BallySportWI) August 19, 2021
This season he has a 6-1 record with a 2.23 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 48 games.
Check this impressive stat out though.
He has not allowed an earned run since June 23rd !
Williams is one of several potent relievers in Milwaukee’s bullpen. Brewers manager Craig Counsell couldn’t be more pleased with his relievers and is ecstatic that Williams continues to be dominant in his role.
“The decisions have been pretty simple and they’ve done their job really well at a really high level. We’re fortunate from that perspective,” Counsell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “They way they’ve pitched has certainly made my job really easy in terms of how we order this thing. It’s my job to make sure they get enough rest and keep them healthy.”
Though he got off to a slow start to the season, Williams quickly turned things around and has shown the league why he accomplished so much in 2020.
Set up man Devin Williams put on a masterclass during the Milwaukee Brewers four-game homestand in which the Brew Crew took three out of four games against the defending World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. @carrpediem21 has the full story on https://t.co/d5pfLsCroD pic.twitter.com/fbpIh0Ayu0
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) May 4, 2021
Williams, 27, was dominant as the setup closer for Josh Hader during the COVID season. He shined with his high 90s heat and a ridiculous changeup that stifled the game’s best hitters to the tune of an unhittable 0.33 earned run average in 22 appearances to go along with a 4-1 record.
His K rate was off the charts, finishing with 53 in 27 innings for a historic ratio of 17.6 per nine innings. In addition, Williams led all major-league relievers with a 0.63 WHIP and .090 opponents batting average.
Many considered Williams’ changeup, which was given the nickname “Airbender,” the most untouchable pitch in the majors. Hitters went 2 for 62 (.032) against it with 41 strikeouts.
Following his battle with a bum shoulder, most thought Williams would have a significant drop off this season. Early on, it looked that way. Williams started the season allowing nine walks, seven hits, and had an ERA of 13.49. On May 1, his ERA was 4.66.
But he’s found his groove and now its lights out. Over his last 26 appearances, Williams has had a 0.35 ERA. That’s about right for him. He also picked up his first save of the season on August 4th against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Nobody wants to see Milwaukee in a playoff series.
Whether it’s an inning or two of relief work, or coming in to pick up a save, Williams does not back down from any challenge. Despite facing multiple injuries in his early career, Williams has not let that hold him back when he’s out there on the mound. When you watch him tote the rubber and get busy, you can see that he’s determined to get the job done.
Devin Williams, 6 consecutive Airbender Swings & Misses. 🛸
The last one 3,067 RPMs. pic.twitter.com/hY1fs9E4uq
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 15, 2021
Williams still has the wicked change up and he is adept at keeping hitters off balance at the plate. If you’re a hitter and you see a 95 mph plus fastball followed by a hard changeup, it’s hard to make that adjustment.
The Brewers are in a good position to win the National League Central division and Williams will definitely be an important piece coming out of the bullpen during the playoffs.
With all due respect to St. Louis Cardinals ace Black Jack Flaherty, Williams might just be the best MLBbro pitcher in the game.