By Joe Rini
The unheralded Trevor Williams has had a uniquely successful season for the 2022 New York Mets. Unlike Edwin Diaz, trumpets don’t announce his entrance from the bullpen. In contrast to Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer’s highly anticipated starts, Williams’ nine intermittent spot starts quietly dot across the 2022 season. However, his ability to swing between starting and relief roles has made him a highly valued pitcher for the 2022 Mets.
Williams’ modest 2-5 record with one save and 3.09 ERA belie his contributions to the Mets. By pitching multiple innings after a starter’s early exit, Williams has allowed the Mets to come back in a game or spared the rest of the bullpen. Also, Williams filled in ably in the rotation in the absence of deGrom and Scherzer. His best stretch of the season included 24 consecutive scoreless innings between July 7 and August 20. LWOB interviewed Williams about his unique role before the start of the Mets’ 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 16.
The Unheralded Trevor Williams
Chatting with the San Diego native near the Mets dugout, the theme of gratitude came up several times. “I’m thankful I’m able to pitch at this level. I’m thankful Buck (Showalter) trusts me in this role,” Williams said when asked how he handled the transition from starting to relieving at this stage of his career.
He credited bullpen coach Craig Bjornson with helping to make the transition “seamless.” For instance, one of the challenges of relieving versus starting is the necessity to “lock into” every game.
LWOB asked Williams about the difficulty of entering a game in relief in the first inning on September 14, but he modestly downplayed it. “We all get ready in our own ways. What’s great about our team is that we pick each other up, whether it’s our offense, defense, or pitching. We rely on one another to do that.”
Williams said his approach and preparation don’t change whether he’s acting in short or long relief. “It’s not different. Every time you take the mound, you want to put up a zero for the ball club, whether for one inning or until Buck takes the ball out of your hand. There’s really no difference mentally.”
The Mets acquired Williams from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline in 2021. LWOB asked Williams about the experience of being traded in the midseason, but he focused on the positive and expressed gratitude. “It’s part of the baseball business.” It can happen to anybody. I was thankful that the Mets wanted me at the deadline. They were making a playoff push, so I was thankful to be considered part of that.”
Unlike the collapse in 2021, the Mets enter the final days of 2022 battling the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. LWOB asked the seven-year MLB veteran about the experience of being in a pennant race. He replied, “It’s great. It’s everything we work for as baseball players. You want to be the last team standing. It’s exciting for the fans. It’s exciting for us players in the clubhouse. We look forward to coming to the ballpark every day expecting to win.”
Williams made his MLB debut with the Pirates in 2016 and played with them through 2020. He won a career-high 14 wins with them in 2018. As we spoke, a number of his former teammates warmed up on the other side of the field. He spoke well of them, and the time he spent in Pittsburgh. “It’s something that I was thankful to be part of. It’s fun seeing guys I played with succeed on the big league level.”
The 30-year-old will seek to extend his uniquely successful season for the Mets into the postseason in 2022. With a Wildcard spot already clinched, the Mets hope to play deep into the postseason. As the pressure builds and appearances mount on a pitching staff, pitching depth will be key. After providing such depth during the regular season, the Mets will need Williams to continue to impress in the upcoming postseason.