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D-Train Headin' Outta Town

Well, the all-too-long, all-too-expensive Dontrelle Willis experiment in Detroit appears to have ended yesterday as he was designated for assignment, allowing for Max Scherzer to be brought up from AAA Toledo.
Sadly, it appeared to be not a question of 'if' as much as a question of 'when'.
Anyone who knows of Willis knows that he is one of baseballs good guys, which makes his story that much worse. The 2003 NL Rookie of the Year, Willis was long known for his big smile, high leg kick and devastating array of pitches.
Then, he lost it.
Yet the Tigers thought enough of his potential to not only trade for him (though, much more importantly, Miguel Cabrera), but to sign him to a three-year, $29 million contract. Their return on investment? A 2-8 record in only 24 games played between 2008 and now.
What's odd about the whole thing is the fact that his numbers this year are the best he has had in his time in Detroit! His ERA is down nearly 2.5 points, and his SO/9 is up nearly 2.5. He has also logged more inning this season than he has in either of the previous two, even though we've just reached Memorial Day.
But what any positive steps can't hide is the fact that he still struggles mightily with control. Having seen him twice in person this year, it is sadly obvious that Dontrelle has big problems locating his pitches. Too often he is forced to throw the ball down the heart of the plate, and hope for good things. Though he has gotten away with it at an oddly high clip this year, it was not a recipe for success, and his 1.78 WHIP suggests that his ERA was not likely to stay at an already-inflated 4.98.
The fact is that his improved numbers so far appear to be a best-case scenario for Dontrelle this year, and those numbers don't equate to success for the Tigers.


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