Since busting onto the scene during the 2020 season, Devin Williams is now known around the league for his devastating changeup. The unusual movement of this pitch ultimately coined him the nickname “Air-Bender”.
With the changeup, he pairs a fastball in the high 90’s. That combination has been very effective over the past two season. However, this year Williams is reportedly looking to incorporate more cutter/sliders into his regimen.
New pitch alert: Devin Williams is working on a slider/cutter. He threw a slider in the Minors but gave it up in the big leagues because the baseballs have lower seams. He worked on it all winter and thinks it could be a third weapon with his fastball and changeup.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) March 15, 2022
This isn’t a new pitch for Williams. He threw the a slider in the minor leagues but ended up straying away from it once he reached the majors. As for what he believes the pitch is now, he recently was quoted saying “it depends, sometimes it’s a cutter, sometimes it’s a slider”.
Why experiment with throwing different pitches?
Currently, Williams is a two pitch pitcher. His changeup is his primary pitch (63% in 2021) and fastball secondary (33% in 2021). These numbers are not as extreme as Josh Hader’s 83% fastball rate in 2019 when fans were practically begging him to throw his slider, so why add a third pitch?
A slider/cutter would give him a pitch option that would break away from right handed batters or cut in on the hands of lefties. Even if it is a pitch that he would utilize five to ten percent of the time, that may be just enough to keep it in the back of hitters minds when at the plate.
Additionally, unlike last spring training, he is coming into camp healthy. Yes, he did have surgery on his throwing hand due to an injury sustained after punching a wall, but there appears to be no issues with this hand. During the off-season there was a lot of concern among fans regarding his ability to still throw his changeup. Per Williams, when talking about his changeup he indicated that “I’ve come out on the other side, even better than I was before”.
With reporting to camp ready to fully participate, this gives him the flexibility to work on new pitches. For now, the addition of this slider/cutter is an experiment. Adam McCalvy reported that the Brewers will let him tinker with it for now and make a decision at the end of spring training.
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