When the Cincinnati Reds acquired Brandon Williamson in March of 2022 he was coming off of a strong season in the Seattle Mariners organization. In 2021 he had posted a 3.39 ERA in 19 starts between High-A Everett and Double-A Arkansas where he had 33 walks and 153 strikeouts in 98.1 innings pitched. Baseball America had rated him as the #83 prospect in baseball entering the 2022 season. But once 2022 began, things started to go south for the left-handed pitcher. He battled consistency with both his control and with his stuff. After 27 starts between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville he posted a 4.11 ERA and had 77 walks with 123 strikeouts in 122.2 innings.
The slide backwards has continued this season in Triple-A. The now 25-year-old has made eight starts for the Bats and his ERA sits at 6.62 thanks to 44 hits and 20 walks to go with just 27 strikeouts in 34.0 innings. In 2022 the lefty allowed just nine homers in 122.2 innings, but this season he’s already given up seven of them. Keeping the ball in the park last season helped mitigate many of his other struggles, but that hasn’t been happening this season and it’s led to a lot of runs against him.
Despite the struggles, injuries at the big league level had led to Williamson getting called up to the big leagues and he’s going to make his big league debut tonight in Colorado. The big question is – what can you expect to see from him?
It’s a loaded question because he’s been rather inconsistent since joining the Reds organization, but if we’re going to focus on just this year…. well, you’re still not sure. Here’s what his eight starts look like this season:
His last two starts have been fine. The two before that were atrocious. The one before that was solid as he walked a fine line in 6.0 shutout innings. And the three starts to begin the season were not good. You simply don’t know what you’re going to get based on any sort of recent history with Williamson. Will he throw strikes or won’t he? Will he give up a bunch of homers or won’t he?
He’s pitched better against lefties this season than righties. As a left-handed pitcher that’s not surprising. Lefties have hit .286/.333/.381 against him, but he’s had just six strikeouts in 45 match ups this year (but also just three walks). Right-hadnded hitters have hit .320/.425/.600 against him with 17 walks and 21 strikeouts in 120 trips to the plate against him this year. They aren’t missing and they are doing plenty of damage.
When it comes to his stuff, he’s throwing five pitches this season. Here’s what the breakdown looks like:
For the most part, this is all small sample size stuff. Guys are slugging 2.000 off of the cutter, but that’s literally just 1-for-2, with the one being a home run. That’s not really useful data because he throws the pitch so infrequently. He does throw enough of the other pitches to where the data is at least somewhat useful, though. The breaking balls seem to be hits often enough, but guys haven’t done much damage with them. The fastball and change up, though, that’s where hitters have seemingly found the ability to hit for power.
No pitcher likes pitching in Coors Field. Breaking balls don’t break like they do just about everywhere else. The ball absolutely flies. And with a huge outfield to try and make up for the fact that the ball absolutely flies, weak contact can often drop in for hits. For Williamson to have success he’s going to need to be on top of his game. Throwing strikes will be a must because walking guys will lead to troubles more in Colorado than just about anywhere else. Keeping the ball in the park would also go a long ways, but that’s always a lot easier said than done in Coors Field.
Who knows what will happen on Tuesday night. Great pitchers will have a clunker every so often. And bad pitchers will throw a perfect game every few decades. You never know what you’re going to see. But a low-strikeout, high-walk, high-home run pitcher in Coors Field isn’t usually a good recipe. Which Brandon Williamson shows up? The sort of consistent guy that last two times he’s taken the mound, or the inconsistent version who has struggled much of the last two seasons?
You can see the career stats for Brandon Williamson here.
I anticipate this being pretty ugly tonight.
Will make last night’s score look boring…could be true football score, at least on one side.
Anything short of getting completely lit up would be good.
Pain is what I expect
I’d say his line will look like this:
1.2 innings pitched
7 earned runs and 1 unearned
Every sign is there for a bad outcome so I’m gonna guess it won’t be a terrible outing. I’m gonna guess 4 Runs in 5 Innings. That still makes for a crappy ERA but in today’s yuppie ball where earned runs aren’t as meaningful as yuppie stats, it’s considered to be decent. I mean, what does earned runs have to do with winning or losing games? Of course, how hard you hit a ball is more important than average or hits. It doesn’t matter that it’s constantly pulled right to a fielder as long as it has velocity. It’s really anything that makes traditional or older people look inferior intellectually. Anyways, I’m sorry for my tirade, I just miss what baseball was. I don’t expect much from the start but I sure hope that he can create a fantastic memory for himself and his family.
Baseball is the same as it was. You’re just more annoyed by how people talk about it.
Well said, Doug.
“He really smoked that one!” has just turned into “That one had an exit velo of 107.8!”
I’ve been hearing “he can really spin the ball” for two decades from scouts now, and I know it was said long before then, too. Now we can just put a number on how much he’s spinning it.
I’d take that in a heartbeat. I was thinking at least 4 innings and a 9.00 ERA or less would be a win and would keep us in it. Anything better than what Hunter Greene did would be good too
Another LHP with a modest fast ball, lightly used change and poor control….what could possibly go wrong?
Reds pitching staff is about to be exposed as they move past poor teams and toward a more challenging schedule. This combined with a singles hitting lineup makes for challenging times.
Respectfully, I don’t think it’s the same Doug. It seemed perfect before. They knowingly let juiced players destroy and diminish real record holders. They take heat from that so they juice the balls. What’s with giving 2nd base in extra innings? Why do people push for games to end so quickly if they really love baseball? I mean, the nfl should start overtime automatically on the 20 yard line, it would speed it up. 300 game winners, will that ever happen again? 3000 hits? How often will that happen. Heck, it’s rare to see a CG. You can say that you like the new baseball better and I get it but It’s not really the same game. To me, watching baseball is similar to fishing. I relax and I’m in no hurry for it to end. Everyone likes different things but I definitely see and feel the changes. Again, everyone has their own taste buds and I get that. I just think that baseball has lost the nostalgia and romance.
Different age groups may not agree with you.
My guess is you are a little older then some (As am I).
I agree with you, I am not a fan of the new rules, but you need the younger fan, who group with with Video games, and all the games on TV.
I used to listen to Marty and Joe, for years.
There are definitely some changes. As for the timing of games, we’re actually returning to the past. When we were younger, games were not 3+ hour marathons for 9-inning games. Of all the changes, I’m a huge fan of getting the game back to a manageable duration. Going fishing is a rarity for me. If I only watched a full game as often as I fished, I wouldn’t have any idea who the players were. I’m glad I can watch more of the games now.
The game is the same, by and large. The differences are just how the players are used. And people have been complaining about that for 100 years.
Guys aren’t going to win 300 games again because starting pitchers just aren’t used the same way because hitters are different than they used to be (half of the lineup isn’t slap hitting guys who can’t hit the ball out of a wet paper bag).
I prefer guys hitting the ball hard over chopping at 86 MPH fastballs off of concrete. But the game hasn’t really changed all that much. Guys still try to hit the ball that’s thrown to them and guys throwing the ball are still trying to get guys to miss the ball or make weak contact. The fielders are still trying to catch the ball and make outs.
As for the steroids…. Babe Ruth was injecting himself with sheep testical extract to try and gain more power. Dudes in the 60’s and 70’s were taking amphatemines (greenies) by the handful. The idea that steroid guys were the first group “cheating” is silly.
As for the game ending quicker… that’s easy. There’s 162 games and people have things to do in their life. Shortening the game makes it easier for most people to watch more games, attend more games. If baseball games only took play on the weekends and they played once a week, things would be different. But that’s not the case.
Doug, I never said that steroid users were the first cheaters. That would be silly. Baseball was definitely complicit with it and also juiced balls for inflated home runs too. There’s been 162 games for a long time. The outcry for shorter game times seems to me a bigger issue in the last decade or so. Maybe it’s mostly about tv? I’m curious as to when you started watching baseball. I started watching in the late 70’s but was a huge fan in the 80’s. Obviously, that doesn’t equate to baseball knowledge but I’m curious as to when you started watching mlb live. I read about Micky Mantle but I never watched him. I know he was great but people that watched it unfold in real time have more insight on just how talented he was. One thing that I love regarding baseball today is message boards and I thank you for what you do. I haven’t read your stuff for too long. I try to state my opinions as opinions and not fact. I wish kids today could’ve taken in the fun of the baseball card craze growing up. There’s probably something to baseball changing with society and the times. I don’t want to call it evolving because everything isn’t good. The other major sports have changed a lot too. I still think that getting hits at whatever exit velocity is way more important than projected future hits. There has to be way too many variables for that to be accurate. Is a players health, eating habits, sleeping habits, personal life all gonna stay the same? There’s just too many things that go into performance. Results are what happened. Projected results are what you think might happen. Runs win games…. Period… Sorry for the book. I better chill out…
They juiced the ball in 1987, knowingly or unknowingly. What happened after 1968 changed the game, too. So did what happened in 1972. Baseball’s always been tinkering with the game and the rules to get the outcomes they desire. I’ve been watching games since the 80’s. Of course until the mid-to-late 90’s you couldn’t watch nearly as many games. I still remember how big of a deal it was when Sports Channel was going to carry 42! Reds games a year.
Is that why Aaron Judge has a big farm in upstate New York with a lot of sheep on it? It all makes sense now. :)
Well said, totally agree.
Thank you for the cordial reply…
If he can go 5 ip under 100 pitches, and keep them within 2 runs it’s likely a success. Less than 2 ip and more than 5 runs is a failure. Anything in between is not good. Some of it is relative to Coors – i.e. he could still be out there in the 3rd inning with a 9-6 lead, so they’ll let him go to avoid the early bullpen, but that’s still not good.
Destined to be a relief pitcher
Colorado Red, I agree about needing young fans. I’ve wondered if they made such a spectacle of the home run derby in prime time that new fans thought that was what a baseball game is about. If so, no wonder they cry about games being too long. Strategy in baseball seems to not be as much of a factor. Small ball was fun, it let gritty, hustle players be a bigger part. It was awesome seeing McLain turning a single into a double yesterday. Anyways, sorry if I sound like the get off of my lawn guy.
So, today is basically a bullpen game. Just unofficially.
A guy who gives up a lot of base runners and a lot of HR’s in L’ville is likely to get lit up in Colorado. Hopefully he makes it thru the 3rd inning, but I guess it’s just a matter of how many runs the Reds want to surrender before they turn to the bullpen.
Good thing we have a GM and staff that saw past some stats a guy threw out there!
Lol. Thanks for commenting for the first time in three years.