Dontrelle Willis is having a terrible year, even by Vin Baker standards. Coming into tonight’s game, he has allowed 16 walks and only 3 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched. He has spent most of the season on the DL and after tonight’s outing, the Tigers should look into having Willis head to the minors.
He started tonight against the Cleveland Indians and only lasted 1 1/3 innings, gave up 5 walks, allowed 8 earned runs on 3 hits (two of them being home-runs). After striking out two batters tonight, his BB:K ratio is 21:5, which Jose Canseco could do as a starting pitcher in the major leagues.
I’m not sure what is wrong with Dontrelle, he came into the majors with lightning stuff and a deception with his release that makes the ball hard to pick up for the batter. Questions about his performance started to appear last season when he went 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA for the Florida Marlins. Willis was then traded to the Detroit Tigers in the Miguel Cabrera for Cameron Maybin/Andrew Miller trade in the offseason.
Willis could end up being another tragic figure like Mark Prior. Willis has not had the extended trips to the disabled list like Prior, but I believe that his arm could be tired. In his first five seasons, Willis amassed 15 complete games and averaged 200 innings a season. He was a big part of the magical 2003 season in which the Marlins came out of nowhere to win the World Series, but ever since, his teams have been playing for nothing important and using his arm as much as possible.
The Tigers are in need of pitching, so they could end up using Willis a few more times before they become cautious. They just found out that Jeremy Bonderman, the staff’s #2 starter, will be lost for the season due to blood clots, but Joel Zumaya will be back soon from various injuries. Their farm system isn’t very deep, since they traded their best prospects to obtain Willis and Cabrera. Brandon Inge could become expendable, but it looks like their pitching woes will not be cured by an addition of one starting pitcher.
I wish the best for Dontrelle Willis, but it looks like this season will be a long one.