Milwaukee Brewers: Is it too early to sing praise of Devin Williams?

A year ago at this time, Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Devin Williams was still a little under the radar as the set-up man for lefty closer Josh Hader. Well, as much under the radar as a pitcher can be who was Rookie of the Year (2020) and an All-Star (2022) in his first five years in the league.

Hader’s August 1, 2022, trade to the San Diego Padres, however, put Williams in a brighter spotlight as the new closer for the Brewers. If early results are any indication, Williams has thrived in his new role.

Devin Williams has thrived in new role as closer for Milwaukee Brewers

In his first 14 games this season, Williams has an ERA of 0.64, a 3-0 record and six saves. The Brewers are 13-1 in games Williams has pitched, with the only loss an 8-1 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers when manager Craig Counsell got Williams one inning of work on May 10. Of pitchers with 14 or more innings pitched this season, Williams is one of 13 pitchers in the majors to have a WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) under 0.800 (Hader is also one of those 13 pitchers).

The 2023 season is not an uncommon stat line for Williams, now in his fifth season in the league. His career stats read a 21-7 record (.750 winning percentage), a 1.91 ERA, 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings, 24 saves … all in 172 games and 169.1 innings. With those career stats in mind, consider this:

  • With 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.49 strikeouts for every one walk (minimum of 150 career innings pitched), Williams is one of seven pitchers in MLB history with 14 strikeouts per nine innings and more than three strikeouts for every walk. The others on this list: Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Edwin Diaz, Dellin Betances, Josh Hader and Spencer Strider.
  • Of all pitchers in baseball history with a minimum of 150 innings pitched, Williams is one of four pitchers to have a career ERA under 2.000 since 1900. Emmanuel Clase (1.64), Ed Walsh (1.82) and Addie Joss (1.89) are the others. Clase is the current Cleveland Guardians closer, while Walsh and Joss pitched in the early 1900s.
  • Williams is one of six pitchers with a career winning percentage of .750 or better since 1900 (minimum of 25 decisions). He is sixth on the list at 21-7 (.750). Current Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin is first on the list with a 27-7 record (.794).
  • Finally, Williams is the only pitcher in MLB history with a minimum of 150 innings pitched to have 20 or more saves (he has 24) and a winning percentage of .750 or better.

Drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft. Williams is no longer under the radar … or, for that matter, under the Hader.