The first outing in the Detroit uniform for Dontrelle Willis was far from what many had hoped but he likely got off very easy as the damage could have been far worse. It is true that Dontrelle has been regressing drastically in most stats within a pitchers control since his 2005 campaign and had a Spring Training that could only be described as horrendous. Given that, yesterday’s game only proved that he has failed to find his control. A combination of a nice fly-ball friendly Comerica Park, some good defense and impatient opposing batters masked what could otherwise have been a major drubbing.
The optimist would say he threw a one hitter and that a bit of wildness can help a pitcher throw batters off. This is something not even D-Train himself seems to believe:
“I was terrible and that’s pretty much it,” said Willis, obtained from Florida along with Miguel Cabrera in a six-player deal. “But you still have to battle and try and keep your team in the game.”
Outside of the 7 walks allowed (3 of which went to Nick Swisher) over just 5 innings pitched there are a number of other worrisome stats that, while possibly helping Willis during this outing, won’t last for future starts. In yesterday’s start, Willis threw a total of 89 pitches with only 46 of them being for a stike. That means that an astounding 48% of his pitches were balls, this against a team that is not the most patient in the league.
Where some combination of luck, a large park and good defense helped out was with balls that were hit into play. Looking at stats such as BABIP and what happened with balls put into play shows a drastic difference between Willis’s one start and those of the rest of the starters. Below is a breakdown of each Tiger’s first start of the season:
One might think that Willis is a fly-ball pitcher from these stats, but he has historically not been such a pitcher as his lifetime GF/FB average is 1.34. Willis coaxed a large number of infield fly balls, which are easily handled, as well as outfield fly balls. The White Sox were struggling to get a good hit and these stats show that but they weren’t giving anything to hit. In reality, against a more patient lineup there should have been a much larger number of walks and a much worse score.
D-Train needs to get his control fixed and quickly.