I’m a big fan of Dontrelle Willis. The guy plays the game he clearly loves with a ton of energy, the level of energy every baseball player should play with. However, the D-Train has a slight problem and that’s pitching like he did back when he was with the Florida Marlins. Instead of seeing a Cy Young pitcher, the Detroit Tigers have seen a Willis who walks as many hitters as he used to strike out.
With the Tigers still responsible for paying Dontrelle’s remaining $12 million of his three-year deal, Dontrelle has been given ample opportunities to find his groove again and be a part of the Tigers rotation. Last year, control problems and injuries cut his season short. This year started no differently before he was finally placed on the Disabled List with an anxiety disorder. Dontrelle, admirably so, rehabbed his ass off to earn another shot at a spot in the rotation.
After a forgettable 2009 debut in a slugfest of a game with the Minnesota Twins, Dontrelle responded with a combined 1-hitter shutout against the high powered Texas Rangers. In 6.1 IP, Willis walked just two opposite five strike outs. He appeared to be back and on track.
Well, in his next five starts, the only track the D-Train has been on, if any at all, is one that is on a steady decline. Check out the stats from his last five starts. It’s gradually gotten worse and it makes one wonder, how much worse will the Tigers let it get before making a move:
I spoke with a Tigers player, whom I will keep anonymous, during my time in Pittsburgh and he claims the Tigers organization continues to mess with Dontrelle’s head and they just need to let him pitch. I’m not in the clubby, so I don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors, but, on the outset, I couldn’t disagree with this more. Dontrelle has been run out to the bump every five days since his return from the DL and his production level has decreased significantly with each start. As you can see from the stats, his walk numbers have gotten worse, his ERA is through the roof, and he remains winless in his last five starts. It doesn’t help that his latest catastrophe of an outing came against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates.
When will the Tigers put an end to the D-Train wreck?
Apparently this post inspired the Tigers to finally make a move. Dontrelle Willis will not make his scheduled start on Saturday against Milwaukee. Yay.