The most recent news about Devin Williams was from October 5, with Williams having undergone surgery on his pitching hand, which he had broken when punching a wall the week before. At the time, the Brewers had finished their regular season schedule and were a few days away from starting their NLDS matchup with the Braves. There was still hope then that Williams could pitch in the World Series, if the Brewers were able to make it that far. Unfortunately, it was their opponents in that series who made it to the World Series, with the Brewers falling to the Braves.
It’s impossible to say whether the Brewers would have fared any better in the alternate reality where Williams doesn’t punch that wall, but it’s hard not to wonder. He had an incredible breakout during the shortened 2020 campaign, throwing 27 innings with a miniscule ERA of 0.33 and an absurd 53% strikeout rate. It would have been impossible for Williams to maintain that level of dominance in the larger sample size of a full season, but he still pitched well enough to prove that it wasn’t a complete mirage. Over 54 innings in 2021, he put up an ERA of 2.50, along with a 38.5% strikeout rate, still well above league average. But the Brewers had to head into the playoffs without him, due to the actions of Williams himself.
Now three months later, Williams sat down with Will Sammon of The Athletic to discuss the incident and the events surrounding it. As detailed by Sammon, the incident took place the night of Sunday, September 26, after the Brewers clinched the NL Central, with the post-game celebrations that started in the clubhouse eventually making their way into the outside world. Although Williams doesn’t go into explicit detail about what happened, he says that he became “upset over an altercation” and that “instead of taking it out on that person, I walked away, hit a wall.”
After eventually realizing the severity of the injury days later, Williams was left with the difficult task of informing his teammates about the situation. On the subject of whether he adequately expressed himself in that moment, Williams told Sammon, “I think most people understood what I was trying to say. They got the message. But that … that was the most difficult part.”
However, despite the emotional toll of feeling like he disappointed his teammates, he hasn’t been spending his offseason completely mired in guilt. That’s at least partially attributable to Hunter Strickland who, though now a free agent, was with the Brewers at the time. He had a similar self-imposed injury when with the Giants in 2018 and told Williams, “You have to forgive yourself at some point and move on. Otherwise, you’re just holding yourself back, keeping yourself from moving forward.” When asked if he heeded Strickland’s advice, Williams said, “There was definitely a month and a half when I was just sitting there, couldn’t do anything and I was down on myself. But if I stayed like that, I would never get to where I want to be.”
Williams is now on pace to return to full health before reporting to spring training, gearing up for 2022. He figures to be an integral part of a Brewers pitching staff that is largely the same as the one that was among baseball’s best in 2021, as the club looks to make the postseason for a fifth consecutive season.