Detroit Tigers Free Agent Target: Trevor Williams
Trevor Williams refused his assignment to the minors for the Pittsburgh Pirates and elected free agency. Should the Detroit Tigers take a look?
As we continue to wait on the non-tender deadline to approach on Wednesday, December 2nd, right-handed starter Trevor Williams elected free agency after the Pirates designated him for assignment. The Detroit Tigers, who are looking for pitching, maybe a fit for a few reasons, but before we go into why, let’s take a look at his stats from 2020.
Trevor Williams Stats:
- 2020: 55IP, 7.97 K/9, 6.96 ERA, 49K/21BB, 4.94 xFIP, 15 HR allowed
On the surface, his stats are not the greatest, though he had a solid 2018 campaign in which he was 14-10 with an ERA of 3.11 with 126 strikeouts in 170.2 innings pitched. As Chris Brown said to me, he is a “right-handed Matt Boyd.” So what changed for Trevor Williams year to year?
According to Baseball Savant in 2020, he threw his four-seam fastball 42% of the time, the lowest percentage of the career, and thew his slider more, bumping up to 26% from around 16% to 18%. He threw his sinker less, which was a somewhat effective pitch for him before.
It could be the change in philosophies under new management in Pittsburgh. In the past, they preached about throwing the sinker and two-seam fastball more, and then embarrassingly saw pitchers like Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow get much better when they left the Pirates. Perhaps the new regime swung too far in the other direction.
Trevor Williams’ sinker was his go-to put-away pitch last year, but his usage of the pitch dropped to a career-low of just 8.4%, down nearly 10% from his strong 2018 campaign. Meanwhile, his slider usage jumped to a career-high 26.6%, up almost 12 points from 2018. Batters posted a .413 wOBA against the slider last year, but just a .328 wOBA against his sinker.
Williams threw his four-seamer more than any other pitch (42.7%), and he allowed 11 home runs on it, compared to two against the slider and one on a sinker. What is interesting is when he kept his four-seamer near the top of the zone, he generated a good amount of swings and misses, and batters hit less than .200 against him in 2020.
Trevor Williams isn’t a workhorse, but he has generally been healthy, and he was an average MLB pitcher just two seasons ago. With other Pirates pitchers doing well elsewhere, it could be worth getting Williams with new pitching coach Chris Fetter and Dan Hubbs to overhaul his arsenal. Hubbs may even have some familiarity with him, as Hubbs was the head coach at USC when Williams was at Arizona State.
According to Baseball Savant, Williams draws comparisons to free-agent target Jake Odorizzi. If the Detroit Tigers can get Williams on a bargain deal to fill a spot in the rotation and fix his issues, they may get the same results other teams have seen from former Pirate starters.