Austen Williams, rookie pitcher, learns from Nationals veterans

September 27, 2018

Austen Williams’ contract was selected by the Nationals in early September, adding him to the major league pitching staff after he spent most of the year in the minors.

The right-hander was called up after posting a 1.19 ERA across 68 innings for Double-A and Triple-A Syracuse, after he had an ERA of more than 5.00 at two levels last year.

Williams believes multiple factors have contributed to his breakout year.

“Switching to the bullpen was a big part,” he told The Washington Times, standing by his locker Tuesday. “I was able to focus on two pitches. I think that fits my pitching style better. I also just had an increase in velocity just going to the pen and having shorter stints.

“So my fastballs played up a little bit and I’ve been able to throw my breaking ball up more consistently. So I think that’s been a huge part of the success I’ve had this year,” added Williams, who is from Texas.

Veteran presence has been important for Williams’ transition to the majors. Williams believes the influence of veterans like Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg is important to crafting his game.

“I think just getting to play with anyone new is really good experience,” he said. “I think especially like you said, veterans that have been around and done it are good. Just picking their brains, choosing what kinds of things they do that I’d like to implement.”

“I talk to Scherzer about the way he throws his pitches and the way he works on pitches,” he added. “I think that’s something I’ve taken into my work and into what I do before games. And just watching them. Watching how they pitch. Not necessarily having to ask them about things but just seeing the way they pitch lineups and how they use their pitches. It’s pretty awesome.”

Williams, 25, has earned a 5.00 ERA through nine innings for the Nationals in his first eight outings at the big league level.

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