I think after Jeff Luhnow gave Williams a contract for $2.1 million and based on his track record, it is safe to assume that he does have a spot on the Opening Day pitching staff. Last season he pitched in 37 games, starting 25, and had a 9-10 record with a 4.57 ERA. That came after a 2012 in which Williams pitched in 32 games, starting 15, and had a 4.58 ERA to go with a record of 6-8.
On Monday, Williams got six innings and 75 pitches of work in facing Astros’ minor leaguers in an intra-squad game. The veteran hurler was able to get some work in and make some adjustments as gets ready for the season, in whatever role he will have.
“A couple of games I was leaving balls up in the zone,” he said. “Fortunately I was getting them to be outs, but I know during the season they’re not going to be outs and I’m going to get hurt. I just tried to work on throwing the ball down in the zone.”
The problem, if you can call it that, for Williams is that his versatility will work against him as Bo Porter fills out his pitching staff. What is nice to hear, is that Williams has the right attitude about whatever role he will ultimately have.
“He’s done both, which obviously it gives you flexibility, but right now he continues to compete for a rotation spot,” Porter said. “I’m sure he probably would be willing to do whatever is best for the ballclub, but we brought him in here to compete for a rotation spot.”
With Opening Day getting closer and the starting pitchers needing to get their work in, Brett Oberholtzer also pitched in the same game as Williams. The left-hander threw 75 pitches in five innings, and was pleased with the results. The one problem is that he hasn’t faced major league opponents since March 7th.
“I was getting a lot of swings and misses,” he said. “That was a positive note regardless of if they’re minor-leaguers or not. I don’t think anybody got the ball in the outfield, which is a plus. Continued to work on my off-speed, which was a plus. And my fastball had good life. I was pretty happy.”