The Milwaukee Brewers, the No. 8 seed in the National League, are scheduled to begin their best-of-three Wild Card Series against the No. 1 seed Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night. If the Brewers are to pull off the upset, they'll have to do it without one of their best pitchers.
Devin Williams, the 26-year-old rookie reliever who had a brilliant season, was left off Milwaukee's Wild Card Series roster because he's dealing with shoulder soreness, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Haudricourt notes that he hears Williams' injury is "not really bad," though it is bad enough to cause him to miss the series.
Williams appeared in 22 games this season, compiling a 0.33 ERA (1375 ERA+) in 27 innings. He allowed one earned run on eight hits and nine walks, and did so while recording 53 strikeouts. Put another way, Williams fanned 53 percent of the batters he faced. His ERA, by the way, was the lowest in the majors among pitchers with at least 20 innings.
Without Williams in place, manager Craig Counsell will have to get creative to fill in the gaps before turning the ball over to closer Josh Hader. That could mean expanded roles for the likes of Eric Yardley and Justin Topa, two other rookies who showed promise this season. Veteran right-hander Corey Knebel, meanwhile, finished the regular season with an ERA over 6.00.
Milwaukee's bullpen will also include Freddy Peralta, Drew Rasmussen, Alex Claudio, Ray Black, and ostensibly whichever of Josh Lindblom or Adrian Houser the club doesn't intend to start. (Brandon Woodruff and Game 1 starter Brent Suter are the other pitchers on the roster.)
The Brewers, who did not have a winning record at any point during the regular season, are heavy underdogs against the Dodgers.