News broke earlier today that Devin Williams is likely out for the remainder of the season. As expected, Milwaukee Brewers fans were devastated. A pitcher of his caliber is hard to replace and it may end up costing the team a trip to the World Series.
This past Sunday, the Brewers celebrated winning he 2021 NL Central Division Title. In Williams case, he unfortunately punched a wall at some point in the night. What is worse than punching a wall? Punching a wall with YOUR PITCHING HAND that results in a likely season ending injury and surgery to fix it.
Brewer fans, we now just need to live with this. It happened and we must move on. The big question now is does this Brewers bullpen have what it takes to make it to the World Series without the reigning NL Rookie of the Year?
Typically, an end of game scenario would have been as followed. Boxberger in the seventh, Williams in the eighth, and Hader in the ninth. Now, what is the best move?
Thankfully, we still have Josh Hader, the undoubtable anchor of the bullpen that holds an incredible 1.27 ERA. Hader has had himself another magical year, but now there is a real possibility that he could be asked to pitch multiple innings. A few years ago this is a strategy that worked to perfection, but in 2021 Hader has not been utilized in this way.
Aside from Hader, we have Brad Boxberger. He currently has the second most saves on this team. Also in the bullpen is: Aaron Ashby, Jake Cousins, Hunter Strickland, Brent Suter, Jandel Gustave, Hoby Milner, and Daniel Norris. Most of those players will now see their roles increase due to William’s injury.
Brent Suter has a love-hate relationship with Brewers fans. He has been known to blow close games and does not respond the best when runners are in scoring position. That being said, he has the most wins on this team with 12. However, that stat does not necessarily hold a lot of weight.
Aaron Ashby is another option to fill the void in Williams absence. He is finally settling into his middle inning reliever role, but will Craig Counsell put him in during the eighth inning of a close game in the play-offs? Another option is Hunter Strickland. He has a delightful 1.83ERA and has allowed just seven runs in 34.1 innings pitched.
Earlier in the year, the Brewers traded relievers JP Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen. Those two players certainly would have added to the bullpen depth in a situation like this. However, looking at the bullpen it may just be a matter of who is going to step up and prove to be a valuable asset in October. One would think that there has to be some magic in this bullpen somewhere.
Devin Williams will be dearly missed, there’s no way to put it.
Assuming Williams season has indeed come to a close, he will finish with a dominant 8-2 record featuring three saves. He has a team leading 23 holds (which is actually a tie with Boxberger), 87 strikeouts to 28 walks, and a 2.50 ERA. Another one of his remarkable stats is his 1.6WAR. Some baseball fans do not pay too much attention to WAR, but it was a stat worth mentioning.
In a dream scenario, the Brewers will record a few blow out post-season wins. This would take pressure off the pitching staff. During close games Josh Hader is always a solid option to get the Brewers in the win column, but if he is forced to go two innings he may not be available to play in as many games. Between guys like Suter, Boxberger, Strickland, Ashby, and Hader, this pitching staff is not in the worst shape.
There are still so many more questions that Brewers fans have, but ultimately this bullpen should be fine. If the Brewers hitters are able to rally some runs together and our aces pitch like they have all season, this team should be able to get by without Devin Williams.
However, if things go south and the Brewers fall short of the World Series, the Williams injury will certainly be a reason of blame. If they exit the play-offs early, the big story line may end up being that he cost the Brewers a trip to the World Series