Dontrelle Willis may be done

Via Pinto, The Detroit Tigers Weblog declares D-Train over:

The rocky Tigers career of Dontrelle Willis has been well documented. And the story just keeps getting sadder as Willis walked 8 hitters in his rehab start for Toledo. There is this rush in sports conversation today to be the first to declare someone “done” and to call for a release. Much of it is premature and reactionary (Armando Galarraga is the true ace of the staff and Brandon Lyon should be released were popular refrains in April). But we’re on 2 years of frustration with Willis. It’s time.

He never went full-blown Blass/Ankiel on us, but either his body or his mind just forgot how to pitch. Baffling. And sad too, because I liked having a guy with his kind of delivery and (pre-wilderness) character around. At times like these it’s tempting to speculate whether Willis’ was one of the worst contracts ever. I find myself, however, feeling happy that at least the guy got a big paycheck to set him up for life before the wheels fell off.

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  1. Colin said...

    Maybe he should pull an Ankiel.  Or maybe a reverse-Brooks Kieschnick.  His career hitting numbers aren’t super impressive, but they might be good enough to get him a job if he were to practice hitting every day.

  2. Splint Chesthair said...

    I liked watching Willis pitch too.  I often wonder if his troubles were related to that December 2006 DUI arrest, or related to the circumstances that led to the arrest.  But then looking over his career stats, other than the 22-10 record in 2005, there’s nothing much there to point out.

  3. Adam said...

    There’s a few different lenses you can examine Willis’ career arc through.

    In one sense, he’s a lesson in the power of having your career year early (a la Dale Sveum).

    In another sense, he’s a lesson in the importance of component ERA measures like xFIP. (His home run rate was absurdly low in 2005, and his k/9 was never that great.)

    In a much sadder sense, he’s a lesson in the bad things that can happen when your coaching staff bungles a young pitcher. Willis threw over 800 major league innings before his 25th birthday – that doesn’t usually turn out well.

    There’s also sentiment that the Marlins coaching staff tried to fix something that wasn’t broken. They put in a lot of work trying to refine his mechanics to improve his command and prevent injury. I remember watching a Willis start in 2007, and the guy was throwing his fastball 89-90 from the windup but 93-94 from the stretch. I can’t ever remember seeing a pitcher gain 4 mph going from the stretch.

  4. scatterbrian said...

    Dude threw a ton of innings early on, I wonder what effect that had on him. Moving to the AL didn’t help matters…

    Everyone’s thinking of pulling an Ankiel, but what about trying him out in the bullpen? If anything, he can try stuff over shorter stints, and wouldn’t need to worry about conserving gas for multiple innings.

    @Splint Chesthair: Say hey to Fridge Largemeat for me.

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