San Diego Padres’ general manager A.J. Preller was not shy about adding arms ahead of Monday’s deadline, including former Seattle Mariners’ reliever Taylor Williams.
Lost in the shuffle of the chaos ahead of the deadline, San Diego traded for Taylor Williams on Monday in exchange for a player to be named later.
Williams certainly is not perfect, but some analytics favor him. Despite his flaws, like a sky-high walk rate and lack of control, the Padres felt they needed to acquire him, and there are certainly reasons why.
Let’s take a look at Williams’ complete profile and what he brings to the Padres.
Williams is a Vancouver, Washington native who attended Camas High School before playing college ball at Kent State in Ohio. The 29-year-old was a fourth-round pick by the Brewers in 2013 and labored in the minor leagues for five seasons before becoming part of the Brewers bullpen full-time in 2018, making 56 appearances with a 4.25 ERA.
The Mariners claimed Williams off of waivers from Milwaukee ahead of the 2020 season, bringing him back to his native Washington.
Over the first four years of his career, Williams has certainly had his struggles, with a career 5.34 ERA and 79 ERA+ over 85 games. Typically, his bugaboo is his control, with a career 4.3 walks-per-nine-innings during his time in the minor leagues. He currently leads the major leagues with six wild pitches this year.
2019 was a rough season for Williams, with a 9.82 ERA in 10 games, hence why he was put on waivers. Seattle, amid a rebuild, claimed him and placed the Vancouver native in the back end of their bullpen and ended up earning six saves in 14 appearances, which are more saves than any Padres reliever has right now.
What is interesting about Williams’ overall numbers is that his ERA and FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) do not line up, which means there may be some bad luck involved. Despite his career 5.34 ERA, his FIP stands at 3.80, which is a large gap indicating poor luck with bad fielders around him and unlucky bounces.
He arrives in San Diego with a 5.93 ERA, and a 72 ERA+ yet owns a 3.50 FIP in 2020. Another pitcher that has a 3.50 FIP this year is named Clayton Kershaw.
Like most relievers, Williams is mostly a two-pitch pitcher, primarily favoring his slider. He throws it 54 percent of the time with an average velocity of around 86 mph. Batters are hitting .111 off of that pitch in 2020 with a 47.7 percent whiff rate.
He throws his fastball just over 44 percent of the time at it touches just over 96 mph. Unfortunately, it has not been as effective as his slider, as opposing hitters are batting .360 against his fastball.
What he brings to the Padres
While Williams may not be a dominating reliever, he can be just as, and perhaps even more effective, than some of the arms the Padres have thrown out there in 2020. The Friars rank 22nd in bullpen ERA heading into Tuesday’s action. Eleven of Williams’ 14 outings thus far have been scoreless.
Williams, as of now, is not on the active 28-man roster in San Diego. However, he will be standing by when the inevitable need comes for reinforcements in the bullpen. Clearly, the Padres like the upside and added the 5-foot-11 right-hander as a depth piece in the besieged bullpen.