HomeMLB RumorsDevin Williams To Miss Roughly Three Months With Back Fractures

Devin Williams To Miss Roughly Three Months With Back Fractures

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Brewers star closer Devin Williams has been diagnosed with two stress fractures in his back, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (X link). He’ll be shut down entirely for six weeks and is expected to be out of MLB action for around three months.

It’s a massive hit to the Milwaukee bullpen two weeks before Opening Day. Williams made two appearances this spring before pausing his work as he battled back soreness. He visited a spine specialist this afternoon. That examination revealed the fractures. Fortunately, Passan indicates that Williams is expected to make a full recovery.

That the injury shouldn’t affect Williams throughout his career is a positive, but there’s no question it’s a significant loss for the first half of the upcoming season. The two-time All-Star is among the best relievers in baseball. He has turned in a sub-2.00 ERA in consecutive years, including a sparkling 1.53 mark over 58 2/3 frames last season. Williams shut down 36 games in 40 attempts in his first full campaign as a closer. He rode his patented wiffle ball changeup, the so-called Airbender, to a massive 37.7% strikeout percentage. Williams was named the National League’s Reliever of the Year for the second time in his career.

As is the case with virtually every Milwaukee player approaching free agency, Williams found himself in trade rumors during the offseason. That speculation returned after they dealt Corbin Burnes to the Orioles, but Milwaukee didn’t find a deal to their liking. They elected to keep him at the back of the bullpen instead. Williams should eventually return to the ninth inning, but he’ll now begin the season on the 60-day injured list and will be out of action at least into the middle of June.

It’s unclear if Milwaukee skipper Pat Murphy will go with a committee approach to the ninth inning or pick a defined closer while Williams is on the shelf. If they go the latter route, any of Joel PayampsAbner Uribe or Trevor Megill could be candidates. Payamps was somewhat quietly one of the more productive relievers in the NL last season. The secondary piece acquired in the William Contreras/Sean Murphy three-team trade, Payamps turned in a 2.55 ERA with plus strikeout, walk and ground-ball numbers across 70 1/3 innings.

Uribe has more traditional closing stuff. One of the hardest throwers in the sport, he averaged a blistering 99.4 MPH on his sinker as a rookie. Uribe turned in a 1.76 ERA behind a 53% grounder percentage and a 30.7% strikeout rate over his first 30 2/3 MLB innings. It’s eye-popping stuff, but his command could keep him out of the ninth inning. Uribe walked more than 15% of opponents last season.

Megill, acquired in a minor trade with the Twins last April, struck out nearly 36% of batters faced as a Brewer. He worked to a 3.31 ERA through 32 2/3 frames. Megill averaged 99.1 MPH on his heater, which he paired with a wipeout curveball in the mid-80s. Having that trio of power arms means Murphy should still have a good relief group with which to work, yet there’s no one who can be expected to replicate the production that Williams posts on an annual basis.

Milwaukee controls Williams via arbitration through the 2025 season. He’s making $7MM this season. Milwaukee has a $10MM option for next year but could retain him in arbitration even if they opt for a $250K buyout instead of the option value. If Williams progresses as expected, he should be back on the mound before the deadline. There’s a chance he’d be a midseason trade candidate if the Brewers unexpectedly fall out of contention in the NL Central, but the offers they receive could be complicated by other teams’ trepidation about the injury.

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