Trevor Williams Has Been Playing With Fire This Season

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Despite a strong ERA, Trevor Williams has been playing with fire this season

At 7:05 tonight the Pittsburgh Pirates will start a two-game home series against the Chicago White Sox. Tonight’s game will feature a pitching matchup that will be a rematch of last Wednesday’s 6-5 Pirate victory – Trevor Williams v. Reynaldo Lopez.

At first glance, it would appear that Williams is having an All-Star caliber season. After all, he owns a 3.13 ERA through his first eight starts. However, Williams has been playing with fire this season and this is something must change.

Williams owned an 8.1% walk rate last season, however, that number has spiked to 10.9% this season. Meanwhile, his strikeout rate has dropped from 18.2% in 2017 to 15.8% in 2018. It does not take a baseball genius to realize more walks and less strikeouts are a bad combination.

On top of control issues, which are very concerning as one of Williams’ best skills throughout the minor leagues and during his breakout 2017 campaign was good control, there has been an inability to miss bats. The 7.0% swinging strike rate that Williams owns is down 1.3% from last season. Opposing hitters are also swinging at 3% less of Williams pitches (43.6% v. 46.7%) than last year. So, it is not just swinging strikes Williams is struggling to generate.

Despite owning a fine ERA of 3.13, Williams’ FIP, which is a much better indicator of how effectively a pitcher has pitched than ERA is, currently sits at 4.60. What has helped to bail Williams out so far this season is a .223 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). League average BABIP is .300, so a BABIP of .223 indicates that Williams has benefited from some good luck this season. His 80.9% strand rate is also less than sustainable.

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With his high walk rate, low strikeout rate, and with the help of a low BABIP, Trevor Williams has been playing with fire this season. If he does not start to pitch with improved control while missing more bats soon things got get rough in a hurry for Williams.