Milwaukee will likely be without top setup reliever Devin Williams for the playoffs after the right-hander broke his pitching hand punching a wall after having a few drinks following Sunday’s game that clinched the National League Central division title for the Brewers.
President of baseball operations David Stearns told reporters Williams will undergo surgery to put a plate in his hand to repair the fracture and that the injury will likely “keep him out for the remainder of the season.”
Williams told local reporters that after the team celebration, “I went out to have a few drinks and [at] my home I was a little frustrated, upset, and I punched a wall. That’s how it happened.”
Williams, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, is 8-2 with a 2.50 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 54 innings. Setting up Josh Hader, he has helped give the Brewers perhaps the best late-game combination in the majors. The Brewers are 70-4 when leading after seven innings.
“I’m pretty upset with myself. There’s no one to blame but me,” Williams added. “I feel like I’ve let the team down, the coaching staff, the fans, everyone. I know how big a role that I play on this team and there’s a lot of people counting on me.”
Williams, who had been sidelined with a calf injury, returned on Sunday to pitch a scoreless eighth inning in the Brewers’ 8-4 victory over the Mets, retiring all three batters he faced. He actually suited up for Tuesday’s game against the Cardinals, before finally alerting the team’s medical staff about the hand injury after he was unable to throw.
“He came in, told our medical staff. We got him X-rayed during the game yesterday, got the results during the game yesterday, consulted with our doctors today and we understand that surgery is going to be required,” Stearns said.
The Brewers are in the postseason for the fourth straight season. They lost in the NL Championship Series to the Dodgers in 2018, lost the wild-card game to the Nationals in 2019 and were swept in the first round by the Dodgers last season.
Milwaukee’s bullpen is fairly deep and ranks eighth overall in the majors in ERA, but manager Craig Counsell will have to make some adjustments heading into the postseason. Hader hasn’t pitched more than one inning in any outing this season, so Counsell will look to get longer outings from him. Veterans Brad Boxberger (3.41 ERA) and Brent Suter (3.04) are next in line for setup duties.
First baseman Daniel Vogelbach talked about the situation, and supported Williams, after the Brewers defeated the Cardinals on Wednesday night.
“It’s not something that you expect to hear, but good for him for standing up,” Vogelbach said. “It takes a man to be able to stand up and talk about it and admit it and talk to you guys about it. Good for him. Everybody makes mistakes and it’s easy to point fingers, but I think it’s what we’ve done all year and that’s pick each other up.”
The Brewers have five strong starters, so righty Adrian Houser (3.34 ERA) or lefty Eric Lauer (2.93 ERA) could also move into the bullpen, with Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta fronting the rotation.