Devin Williams: Claims that USA's pitching is weak are 'bullshit'
Don't tell Devin Williams that Team USA's pitching staff in the World Baseball Classic is shallow.
"To be honest, I think it's bullshit," the Milwaukee Brewers closer said, according to Zach Buchanan of The Athletic. "We've got five or six closers in our bullpen. If we do what we need to do at the beginning of the game, you see what we're able to do when we pass it off to the bullpen. I think we have a tremendous collection of arms down there."
While the lineup has been getting a lot of credit for America's success so far this year, the pitchers - particularly the starters - have struggled somewhat. In their second game of pool play, Nick Martinez got beat around by Mexico, allowing three runs on five hits and one hit over 2 2/3 innings. The rest of the staff wound up allowing an additional eight runs the rest of the way in the 11-5 loss.
However, in the final game of pool play, a borderline must-win contest against Colombia, the bullpen really shone. Following Merrill Kelly's start, during which he coughed up two runs over the first three innings, six relievers combined to shut out Colombia the rest of the way, recording nine strikeouts and allowing two hits and one walk in six frames. Williams himself was part of the effort, working a perfect eighth inning with a pair of punch outs.
On top of Williams, the Americans do seem to have at least three other primary closers on their team; Houston Astros' Ryan Pressly, Pittsburgh Pirates' David Bednar, and Colorado Rockies' Daniel Bard. Tampa Bay Rays' Jason Adam and New York Mets' Adam Ottavino have also served as closers at different points in their careers.
Team USA advanced to the quarterfinals by beating Colombia 3-2 in its final game of pool play on Wednesday. The team will face Pool D winner Venezuela on Saturday in a one-game playoff with a trip to the semifinals on the line.