LOS ANGELES -- Devin Williams, arguably the best reliever in baseball this season, has been left off the Milwaukee Brewers' wild-card roster with what the team identified as soreness in his right shoulder, a major blow to a considerable underdog that was already dealing with injuries to its thin pitching staff.
Brent Suter, who probably can't go any longer than four innings, will start Game 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night and will be followed by Brandon Woodruff on normal rest in Game 2. A potential Game 3 on Friday is completely up in the air, increasingly more so given the latest developments. Anderson, with a 4.21 ERA in 47 innings this season, would have potentially made that start had he been available.
Williams, among the favorites for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, struck out 53 of the 100 batters he faced this season and allowed only one earned run. His absence heightens the pressure on star reliever Josh Hader, who hasn't recorded more than four outs in an appearance this season, and increases the need for others to step up in the bullpen.
"It's gonna hurt," Brewers reliever Corey Knebel said. "What he's done is something that has not been done, honestly I feel like for any reliever. He was definitely a huge part in getting us here and not having him is definitely a big blow to the bullpen. All year, he's been taking over. And now, we're gonna have to step up and fill his shoes."
Williams, 26, experienced tightness in his shoulder moments after his two-inning outing against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday and wasn't available for the Brewers' final two regular-season games. He threw during Tuesday's workout from Dodger Stadium to see if he had a chance of helping the Brewers, but his shoulder didn't respond. Williams is hopeful of being available if the Brewers advance to next week's National League Division Series from Texas.
"To not be able to help at all now and just be stuck on the bench -- it's really crushing, honestly," Williams said. "But I'm cheering these guys on. I think that we have the arms in the bullpen to cover for us while I'm out. Hopefully we make it to the next round so that I get to play in the playoffs."
Williams' 53% strikeout rate this season was the highest percentage in major league history by a pitcher who had accumulated at least 20 innings, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. His changeup, known as the "Airbender," has made him a fan favorite on social media. Opponents were 2-for-62 against it this season, good for a .032 batting average that stood as the lowest on a single pitch, per ESPN Stats & Information data.
The Dodgers added pinch-running specialist Terrance Gore and a third catcher in Keibert Ruiz, which frees up Will Smith to DH when Austin Barnes catches Clayton Kershaw in Game 2. Lefty Alex Wood, righty Dylan Floro and top prospect Gavin Lux were left off the Dodgers' postseason roster.
"He's just such a good player, but the lack of experience coming off the bench -- I just don't think it was best for him right now," Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said of Lux.