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Dontrelle gets the ziggy, but is Armando the solution?

June 3, 2010

John Stroba- Writer

Dontrelle Willis went from one of the best stories in Spring Training to a surprising DFA and resulting trade a few days ago. Now that the dust is settling down again it is time to see if he was deservedly cut in favor of Armando Galarraga. In light of the near perfect/perfect game he just finished up pitching yesterday that might seem absurd. However, one game does not define a pitcher. The first thing that needs to be done is understand that Dontrelle is a #5 SP and hold him to that standard when breaking down his starts.

Start #1 @KC: 6ip 7h 2er 2bb 4k

Willis got a no decision in this game only gving up 2 runs when he was done the Tigers were still down a run. Not his fault and while he did struggle early on walking a tightrope, Willis did finish strong not letting the Royals score in his last 3 innings. Nothing great overall, but it does show some promise especially the only 2 walks. Dontrelle did not get into a lot of deep counts in this game either.

Start #2 KC: 5ip 9h 4er 3bb 3so 2hr

A much shakier start than Dontrelle's opening one. He really never got into a groove here, and seemed to be in and out of trouble most of the game. Getting out of trouble though is a lot better than what Dontrelle showed in previous years in Detroit. Overall, just not a very good start.

Start #3 @LAA: 6ip 4h 2er 2bb 2so L(0-1)

His best start of the season so far. Dontrelle started the game retiring the first six batters and finished strong as well retiring the last 8 hitters he faced. Detroit would absolutely take this kind of outing from their #5 SP every time. One could want some more strikeouts against those two walks, but one considers that a rather minor quibble against the whole of this outing. A very tough loss that Dontrelle takes here.

Start #4 Minnesota: 6ip 4h 0er 2bb 6k W (1-1)

Dontrelle does miss his next start in Texas with the flu. The question at this point is if Willis is really going to be back to something like his good Florida Marlins days. If that is the case it would certainly be a huge boon for the Tigers and probably be enough to be a big contender for the postseason. A near perfect game for Dontrelle here.

Start #5 @Minnesota: 5.1 ip 4h 3er 3bb 6so

This is the second time in the early season where Dontrelle has pitched a good game against a team and then in his next start against the same team gives a worse start. Willis was effectively wild in this start and the damage could have been a lot worse. Throwing 40 balls out of 97 pitches just is not going to be good enough.

Start #6 Boston: 3.1 ip 4h 4er 7bb 5so

Shades of the old Dontrelle Willis here. He never had command of his pitches and as a result really did get clocked around by a still pretty good offensive team in Boston. His next start is going to be pretty big. Willis needs a very good start.

Start #7 @LA Dodgers: 5.1 ip 6h 4er 3bb 2so 2 wp L (1-2)

Not the kind of start Dontrelle needed today. The two wild pitches are really disturbing because it shows a lack of control. If this start had come after a couple of good outings then it could be dismissed a bit, but that is not the case here. Not only does this put Dontrelle on thin ice, it is starting to crack underneath him.

Start #8 Oakland 5.1 ip 9h 3er 4bb 5so 1 hr

And this is the start that broke the camel's back here. Really struggled with his control and was very lucky to only give up 3 runs against a rather anemic offense this year. A lot of deep counts and long innings and at this point Dombrowski and crew decided to cut bait.

That being said there are some positives with Dontrelle Willis this year. He was able to keep the ball in the ballpark (3hr given up in 43.1 ip), and while his bb/so is not very good (29/33) at least it is in the positive numbers that almost being 2bb/1so like it has been over the last few years. His WHIP is way too high (1.777), but even that is significantly down from previous years. Willis has made some strides this year, but it was simply not enough for the Tigers. Maybe in the NL he can continue his progress.

His replacement is Armando though. And despite a couple solid starts out of him this year, I do not have a lot of hope for him. In 2008, he did have a very magickal season but that production was simply the result of very good fortune. There are several things that really go against Armando.

1) He truly only does have one plus major league pitch and that is his slider. As a result, he throws it a ton (much like Bonderman used to). Eventually, hitters are going to be sitting on that pitch knowing that they can adjust to his medicore fastball. He might have a solid run, but long term the Tigers can do better and might have to if they want to win this year.

2) He does not strike out a lot of people. Armando suffers from an inability to get a lot of strikeouts. Now, in the long term that bodes very badly for him unless he does not walk anyone (like Brian Moehler or Bob Tewksbury). However, that is not the case with Armando, he does not have that sparkling BB/SO ratio. Now, if he was not homer prone (and he tends to be) he could get away with that as well. But a guy on a mound that does not strike out people without a good BB/SO ratio and is homer prone and that is not a very good combination.

Perhaps, he can recapture the magic of 2008. Still, a team cannot hope and wish so in the stretch run the Tigers very well might need to make a play for another Starting Pitcher.

1 comment:

  1. I agree it is exciting to get behind Armando, and he now has a truly special memory but the Tigers as a team aren't likely to have great memories of 2010 with him pitching a lot. I mean you see guys hit for the cycle who are below average hitters, sometimes people have a special day you just hate to see it taken away from them.