D-Train is a Wreck
Dontrelle Willis has failed to make a good first impressions this spring ending with an abysmal 8.64 ERA. His ERA isn’t the only stat that is wild for him this spring, he’s been completely unable to throw strikes. His OBP for opposing batters is .477, 2.40 WHIP (Walks Hits per Inning Pitched) and has thrown 4 wild pitches. That’s three more than any other Tiger pitcher. Additionally, opposing teams are stealing bases against him without fear as he’s allowed 5 stolen bases in just 6 outings. This could also be due to him concentrating on throwing strikes and paying no attention to runners.
“He’s working hard at trying to get himself back in step,” pitching coach Chuck Hernandez said. “He knows his overall consistency needs to improve, and he’s working hard at that.”
Willis’ next start is scheduled for the fifth game of the regular season, against the White Sox.
“I hope it clicks when the bell rings,” Willis said. “If not, I’ll continue to work hard.”
I hope it clicks too. His control won’t likely improve all that dramatically and has been on a steady decline the past few years. Below is a chart showing his Ball/Strike ratio and WHIP over his major league career.
Any of those numbers are markedly better than his numbers this spring.
Clete Thomas is a big leaguer?
There has been quite a bit of talk about statements made by Jim Leyland regarding Tiger minor leaguer Clete Thomas and a possibility of him breaking camp with the big league team. If you don’t know much about Thomas, as I did, Lee did a great writeup on him at Tiger Tales.
This makes for a great story but I’d put his chances at a long shot. While he has no doubt caught the eye of some of the Major League coaches, he has yet to see a pitch at even the AAA level. The view the coaches have gotten of him this spring has been small, a total of 23 AB’s and mostly in late innings against other teams minor leaguers. Going with an unproven player to start a season where expectations are extremely high would be a major shock.
However, Leyland is one who always goes with who he thinks is best. He did with Verlander and Zumaya only a couple years ago, though the circumstances here are significantly different. We’ll have to wait an see how this plays out, but Freddy Guzman will likely be backing up Inge in center field on Monday.
[UPDATE] – Freddy Guzman has been placed on waivers. I’ll still be surprised to see Thomas break camp with the big league but this is one step closer for him.
Other Tiger News:
- Jim Leyland states, once again, that Denny Bautista will be given his first chance to impress on Opening Day.
- Sports Illustrated has picked the Tigers for the World Series.
- Miguel Cabrera is Jayson Stark’s pre-season pick for AL MVP.