Friday night was a great win for the Tigers, it was also a much needed win for the team. With starter Dontrelle Willis pulled from the game with a hyperextended right knee after 14 pitches, the game outcome looked very much in jeopardy and there wasn’t even an out yet.
Looking back in the crystal ball, having Willis pulled from the game was probably for the best, at least for this particular game. I’d never wish an injury on someone to be pulled from the game but Willis was not pitching well and struggling to find the strike zone even before the injury. The injury, however, might make the win not worth it.
Detroit is not in a good position to handle an extended outage from any of the starters. Billfer from the Detroit Tigers Weblog has outlined some of the possible replacements if it comes to that. Another option was Macay McBride, who the Tigers acquired in a trade for Wil Ledezma last year, was recently lost for the season due to surgery to repair torn ligaments in his elbow. McBride was part of the Tiger bullpen last year but was being moved to a starting role with the Toledo MudHens, likely to handle situations such as the current one.
The bullpen, consisting of Aquilino Lopez, Jason Grilli, Denny Bautista and Todd Jones, pitched the entire game and pitched very well. But with the struggles as of late, the last thing the team wanted was to have them cover a full nine innings. Which makes it all the better that they performed well as not to rely on further bullpen arms.