Devin Williams: Brewers 2020 Rookie Of The Year
There are changeups, and then there is Devin Williams’ changeup.
Brewers opponents learned all about the 26-year-old rookie reliever's changeup. Williams dominated with a 96 mph four-seam fastball and 83-85 mph changeup that has wicked top spin and the downward action of a splitter.
“His changeup, visually at least, almost has kind of a screwball look to it,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Catcher Jacob Nottingham, who teamed with Williams in the minor leagues, had this description: “It’s like a lefthander’s curveball coming out of the hand of a righthander.”
Opposing batters went 2-for-62 (.032) with 41 strikeouts in at-bats ending with one of Williams' otherworldly changeup.
Williams, a 2013 second-round pick out of high school, made his big league debut in 2019 with 13 appearances. He made 22 more in 2020, allowing one earned run in 27 innings for a 0.33 ERA. He struck out 53 and walked nine, allowing just eight hits and only one home run.
Brewers closer Josh Hader, said, “It looks like he’s playing a video game to me. It’s a plus-plus-plus changeup. It’s almost like a lefty slider coming out of his hand.”
Making Williams’ changeup even more remarkable is that it is self-taught. He thinks he began testing his ability to throw an offspeed pitch as early as age 10.
“When I played catch with my friends, just to mess with people or try to make them miss the ball when I threw it to them,” he said. “That’s what turned into my changeup.”
Williams always has thrown his changeup with a high spin rate, but he tweaked it further earlier this year by taking a bit more velocity off it, making it tumble even more. His command of the pitch also was impressive, leaving hitters to flail helplessly even when they guessed it was coming.
Williams had his path to the majors slowed by Tommy John surgery in 2017. He found his niche when he moved to the bullpen at Double-A Biloxi in 2019.
“He’s had a brilliant season, a historic season,” Counsell said. “He’s getting credit for having this . . . unbelievable changeup . . . but his execution has been great as well.”
— Righthander Trey Supak was designated for assignment in mid September to clear a needed 40-man roster spot. Supak spent the entire season at the alternate training site, getting called up for one day without pitching.