What to Expect from Guardians Starting Pitcher Gavin Williams

Gavin Williams of the Cleveland Guardians

The Cleveland Guardians will summon yet another high-prized pitching prospect from the Minors this week, as Gavin Williams is set to make his MLB bow this week. The 23-year-old lit up the stat sheets in the Minors, but what exactly has turned Williams into a future Major League starter? Let’s take a closer look at Williams.

Related: 2023 MLB Fantasy: What to Make of Byron Buxton’s Season

A Look at Williams

There are very few pitchers currently in the Minors with as much raw talent as Gavin Williams. A 30th round pick by the Rays in 2017 out of high school in North Carolina, Williams spent much of his first three seasons at East Carolina out of the bullpen. A teammate of current Cardinals outfielder Alec Burleson, the right-hander struck out plenty of batters out of the pen but struggled with command.

Williams received his first real chance to start at ECU in 2021 and ran with it. Williams went 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA and 130 strikeouts over 81.1 IP. That strong season helped catapult Williams into the first round, as he was selected by the Guardians — a pitching factory in recent years — in the 2021 MLB Draft.

Williams proved to be no match for Minor League hitters in each of the last two seasons. Across 37 MiLB starts, Williams posted an impressive 2.31 ERA, .96 WHIP, and struck out 230 batters across 175.1 professional hittings. The 23-year-old’s walk rates have dropped considerably, as he recorded a tidy 1.9 BB/9 between Akron (AA) and Columbus (AAA).

So, what makes Williams so formidable? The former East Carolina star can pick apart hitters with a high-octane fastball that sits in the 96-99 MPH but can touch the triple digits. It’s not a high-spin fastball per Statcast, but it is a nasty heater that can overpower opposing hitters and one he has good command of.

On of that, Williams possesses a slider, curveball, and change. The slider’s been his primary secondary option, a pitch that pairs very well with the fastball. Williams’ curve, meanwhile, is a well-defined one with good vertical movement and can be tough to pick up. The 23-year-old’s change has been used more as a change-of-pace option.

Williams will join newly promoted catcher Bo Naylor in Cleveland. He’s set to make his MLB debut on June 21 against the Oakland Athletics.

A Look at the Guardians Rotation

The Guardians have been a machine when it comes to homegrown pitching, and Williams is set to continue that trend. The 23-year-old will join a rotation that includes rookies Logan Allen and Tanner Bibee, Aaron Civale, and Shane Bieber.

With Triston McKenzie back on the IL, Williams will likely get some rope by the Guardians brass. And for fantasy owners, the hurler is someone to seriously consider. The 23-year-old is a proven strikeout machine and his stuff should play up in the Majors. Not to mention, his first outing will be against a weaker A’s team.

It’s been a turbulent season for Cleveland, one year after the Guardians took the AL Central. The Guardians have received inconsistent offensive production from free agent acquisition Josh Bell, while Andrés Giménez’s OPS is down 150 points from his 2022 tally. On the pitching side of things, the Guardians have been down Triston McKenzie for most of the 2023 campaign.

Still, Cleveland is still very much in the thick of the race for the division.

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