After a few weeks of praise from writers, fans of box scores, and coaches, it appeared that Dontrelle Willis was a shoe in for the #5 starter spot in the Tigers rotation. Of course if you have watched the games, or listened to local sports radio you may come away with a bit of a different impression. Henning of the Detroit News makes the claim this weekend that Willis is probably going to be released.
A lot of us have been reluctant to put much stock in Willis' numbers so far this spring. We all know it is still spring, but a few things stick out when reading/hearing about how Willis has actually pitched. First and foremost, even with only giving up 1 ER in 10 IP, we are immediately drawn to the 5 BBs in the line. This was on of the biggest reasons that he has been knocked around of late. Another that has been brought up a lot based on stat guys scanning software, is that his fastball seems to top out at around 88-89 MPH. While not terrible, for someone that lacks control, and really doesn't have much of an arsenal anymore, the loss of velocity is worrisome.
His last outing he hit a batter. Many also noted that he had at least 3 line shots straight back at him during that game, which tells you right there that he isn't fooling anyone, and they are dead on his pitches.
It seems the dream is fading for us having Willis earn a penny of his money in Detroit. The consensus if he is cut, is that Bonderman and Nate Robinson will take the 4/5 slots in the rotation after Armando Galaraga was sent to Toledo earlier in the week. Nate hasn't looked bad either, but we can't be all that optimistic about him either. Bonderman hasn't pitched for over a year either so the back end of the rotation is still a huge question mark.