Dontrelle Willis is almost back and headed to the pen

WDFN is reporting that Dontrelle Willis will rejoin the team today or tomorrow and will head to the pen while Armando Galarraga stays in the rotation.


UPDATE
: Old news now, but the corresponding roster move was Clay Rapada getting DL’d due to bicep tendinitis. Rapada certainly struggled his last time out so which may have cut the rehab session short of another start for Willis.

I’m surprised by the move of Willis to the bullpen, seeing as I just wrote that Willis should take Galarraga’s spot in the rotation. What do you know, I was wrong again.

But I do like that Galarraga isn’t going to the bullpen because I wanted him to remain stretched out as a starter – be that here or Toledo. I’m surprised that they would ask Willis to move to the bullpen. But he seems to be embracing it and was joking around with Todd Jones last night. And if he can work on things with Jeff Jones at the MLB level all the better. The tricky thing is getting Willis stretched out again when he rejoins the rotation.

37 Comments

  1. greg

    May 21, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    In my humble opinion, this is definitely the right move. Good to see Galaragga stay in the rotation, at least for now. Here’s hoping that Willis regains his control, effectiveness, and forces another difficult decision by the Tiger brass.

  2. Sean C. in Illinois

    May 21, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Wow, that is good news. A move that makes sense. What the hell is going on here? OK, bringing Joyce up was a good move, too. Let’s be fair.

  3. jason

    May 21, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Man, I wish I would have taken bets before this announcement. I could be rich.

    This makes sense. Good move. Now if only we had some other minor league pitchers we could pull up and get in the rotation, and send some of our other starters to the pen!

  4. stephen

    May 21, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Ai yi yi. Only problem? He’s never pitched out of the bullpen! Ever. Somehow, i don’t think this will solve his control issues. I don’t have a solution, but I don’t think this is it.

  5. albot

    May 21, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    And coming in later in the game with control issues means that there is much less game left to recover from any resulting runs scored from late game walks. At least as the starter you can yank him early if the warning signs are there. But, there is nothing worse than late game walks. Especially for a team with a cold offense.

  6. Joel in Seattle

    May 21, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    No points until Sheff is on the bench…

  7. Mark in Chicago

    May 21, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    until Galarraga regresses to his “more normal” output, you have to give him the innings. maybe they are bringing D-train up to improve clubhouse chemistry… ;-)

    or maybe they want him to work with the major league club while limiting his opportunities to do serious damage in meaningful innings.

  8. Brian P

    May 21, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    I certainly agree with this decision. He couldn’t stay in Toledo the whole year, unfortunately.

    Also, who is going to yield Willis’ roster spot? Miner? Sheffield to the DL? Or will Raburn be screwed by 13 pitchers again?

  9. Dave BW

    May 21, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Dontrelle has indeed pitched out of the bullpen before, Stephen — just not in the regular season. He made relief appearances five times in the 2003 playoffs, if I recall, with a particularly good outing in the first game of the WS.

  10. Drew

    May 21, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    I Think this is stupid , he has never come out of the pen ever, start him in the minors dont sit him in the pen. I mean come on all the tigers starters have an ERA over six, the guy has only pitched 12 innings i think he deserves a few starts before you throw him under the bus

  11. Drew

    May 21, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    sorry 7 innings.

  12. Sawyer

    May 21, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Is that you Drew Sharp?

  13. Mark in Chicago

    May 21, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    well he can only stay at Toledo another 2 weeks for his rehab, so you have to bring him up at some point. Otherwise I believe he has to be placed on waivers (someone please correct if I’m wrong on this).

    I would guess he goes back in the rotation fairly soon, as they wouldn’t want to “stretch him back out” at the major league level if he spends too much time throwing 2-3 inning stints.

  14. Neal

    May 21, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    I agree with Mark and Drew. What good is it putting Willis in the pen? Why not let him start in AAA a few more times?
    The only reason would be that they felt he wouldn’t or couldn’t get any better at AAA.
    Galarraga will come down to earth, but he stays in the rotation till that happens – more than once!
    I linked up to Mudhen stats, and Hessman and Larish look to be crushing the ball, why not bring up Hessman to play third, DH Guillen, and, please, please put Sheff on the DL. Hessman is not a prospect needing some more at bats, and Larish is older than Caberra. Let someone who can hit hit, be it Hessman at 3rd (would this be an improvement over Guillen?), or Larish as a DH. Here’s something, get them both out there if Joyce cools down. Can anyone of the them play in Left?
    Do something, something more than putting Sheff as a DH and Willis in the Pen.

  15. Andrew

    May 21, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Rapada to the DL with tendonitis, making room for Dontrelle.

  16. Neal

    May 21, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Isn’t that just perfect timing.

  17. yak

    May 21, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    You couldn’t leave the D-Train in Toledo. He would run their chances at winning the International league.

  18. yak

    May 21, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    And by run I mean ruin. Darn public schools. lol

  19. Mike in CT

    May 21, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    wonder who made this call, Dombrowski or Leyland?

  20. T Smith

    May 21, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    My guess is they will begin to use him in mop-up rolls, to test the waters (hopefully with the Tigers on the greater end of a lopsided score). I can’t see him coming into a one or two run game in late innings.

  21. Sean C. in Illinois

    May 21, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Is Zach Miner really pitching better lately, or just suiting the situations a lot lately? Seems like they’ve been trotting him out quite a bit. Could it be anything like the Grilli thing, a precursor to a trade? A new long reliever did just come up from Toledo. And when he’s ready to go starter, could the new mop-up guy’s name be Kenny?

  22. PHT in HK

    May 22, 2008 at 12:33 am

    I agree with T Smith. Just because they brought him up doesn’t mean that they have to use him extensively. Mop up innings (like 7-9 tonight) would be a good opportunity to work on his control issues.

  23. Chris

    May 22, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Leyland said that he hoped we can “get Dontrelle Willis back to the Dontrelle Willis we know.”

    YIKES!!!!!!! Let’s hope we don’t.

  24. Kathy

    May 22, 2008 at 7:20 am

    I think he means the DTrain he used to be, you know the Cy Young pitcher and I surely hope they do.

  25. Freddy Fantastic

    May 22, 2008 at 10:37 am

    I think going into the bulpen is the best thing for the team.. The current starters seem to be coming around, and Willis hasn’t yet proven that he can throw strikes. Once that happens, then Leyland has a few options as who to move out of the rotation. Someone has to go, why take a hot pitcher out to sub him for someone that isn’t throwing strikes, or even an unknown for that matter? Besides all that, I don’t know if you haven’t noticed, but the Tigers bulpen isn’t doing to hot these days, this may come to be a blessing for the team.. Seems between the 6th and 8th Innings is where the Tigers strugle to keep the other team from scoring runs and mounting a comeback. Even against a strugling offense like the Mariners. Imagine what the BoSox and/or the Angels will do to them in those innings if they don’t figure it out quick..

  26. Mark in Chicago

    May 22, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Sean,

    No reason to trade Miner unless you’re getting something particularly useful or attractive for him. He has an option remaining and if he has enough crappy outings they’ll just send him down. I’d be surprised if they moved him.

    That said, he has been pitching better lately.

  27. Sean C. in Illinois

    May 22, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Mark

    On Miner, the idea just popped into my head, and I mentioned it in hopes of “calling it” just in case it happened. I’m not clairvoyant, but gaining such a reputation would improve my standing here, I feel.

    You’re right, and I can’t offer up any ideas on what the Tigers could get for Miner that they need. Do you think there’s any chance he gets another shot as a starter this year? I never really understood why he was passed over in favor of Chad Durbin in 2007.

  28. Sean C. in Illinois

    May 22, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Slightly off-topic:

    Speaking of bullpens, I get the impression that the Tigers hitters must have put up abysmal numbers overall against other teams bullpens so far. That’s alarming.

    Speaking of the Red Sox and Angels, while “watching” the tail end of last night’s Tigers game, I saw that the Red Sox were beating the Royals. I wanted to say something like “stunning upset,” “mighty Royals dethroned by upstart BoSox,” or “gee, why can’t the Tigers learn how to do that?”
    0-6 vs. KC and 1-7 against Boston. Boy, do the Tigers have something to prove.

    Rule #1 when you find yourself in a hole: Stop digging.

  29. Mark in Chicago

    May 22, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Clairvoyance is a positive trait, but I think your standing around here is pretty high already. The same cannot be said for a few others, however (I think you know who I mean….)

    Miner as a starter anytime this year looks like a longshot to me. We already have 6 guys to run out there with Willis back, and a handful of guys in the minors to pull up for an emergency start. Plus they’d have to stretch him out if they planned to run him out there for more than 1-2 spot starts.

    It could happen, but I would guess it’s unlikely. To make me look bad though, I would expect Leyland to announce that Miner is going into the rotation effective immediately.

  30. Jeff Molby

    May 22, 2008 at 11:46 am

    The tricky thing is getting Willis stretched out again when he rejoins the rotation.

    As long as we’re in the mood for unconventional moves, they could stretch him out by having him tag team with Nate every fifth day.

  31. Mark in Chicago

    May 22, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Sean,

    Also of interest is the Tigers’ 4-15 record against the Central. Tough to win the division when you can’t beat teams you play 19 times each.

  32. Sean C. in Illinois

    May 22, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Mark

    Long relief seems to be a way station for pitchers. No one makes a career of it (or am I wrong?). I’m not sure what they’re waiting for with Miner. It seems his moment to get into the rotation has come and gone, and where he fits now is a position you fill with any spare part that gets it done a couple outings in a row. I keep waiting for another team to ask the Tigers, “Say, are you going to eat those fries or not?” It’s irrational, but I’m antsy for Miner to go. I get that way with any decent player (Omar Infante was an example) that doesn’t fit the plan. It’s entirely rational for the Tigers to be content with Miner where he is now. I guess.

    Yeah, I know who you mean. When I saw things getting icky over in the Ugly Thread, I had the idea for an absurd but harmless and non-political way to poke fun. Defuse the tension, maybe. But I’m glad I didn’t bother with such a post. I’m dying to use it some other time, though. It’s my Zach Miner.

  33. Sean C. in Illinois

    May 22, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Mark, yeah, Tigers vs. AL Central just defies understanding. It seems to be a tradition. Even in 2006 (and 2007), if I remember correctly, the Tigers stunk (relatively speaking) in this department.

    Jeff Molby, a tag-team with Rogers might make even more sense.

  34. Mark in Chicago

    May 22, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    I know what you mean, Sean, the Tigers have a pretty valuable guy in Miner who is servicable as a reliever but would be converted back to a starter on a lot of other teams. It’s definitely in their interest to hang on to him, especially since they can get cheap innings out of him (as long as he continues to pitch well – he’s definitely had his share of rocky moments). Even if they have to treat him like a little b*tch and relegate him to the bullpen.

    I’m not sure what the long-term plan is for him either, but I tend to agree that his opportunity to start on a regular basis has probably passed. It’s possible they may view him as a swing guy like Durbin was; my guess why they passed him over was Miner’s inability to throw strikes consistently.

    I was briefly part of the muddy mess over at the Ugly Thread, and I should really know better. Some folks had been getting on my nerves that day and I really felt like nitpicking an issue. Oh well, live and learn. Would have liked to see your absurd but harmless joke, though.

  35. Jeff Molby

    May 22, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Long relief seems to be a way station for pitchers. No one makes a career of it (or am I wrong?).

    Depends on how you define “a career”. It’s certainly not a good career (and rarely a very long one), but a lot of guys do spend the bulk of their major league career there.

    a tag-team with Rogers might make even more sense.

    You’re probably right.

  36. Drew

    May 22, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    I say once willis gets up to par give him a couple chances the guy only has 5 big league innings this year if he has a couple of bad outings than take it from there. I think because he is not home grown and not one of there guys this is going the way it is. No matter what you gave the guy 30 mil you midas well give him a chance aint like you are in the penant race lolol

  37. Sean C. in Illinois

    May 22, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Jeff

    “Depends on how you define “a career”.”

    True, and it could be Miner’s destiny, for all I know. I thought he was in line for more, didn’t see anything that made me think his occasional struggles were anything worse than any other new/replacement starter, but I’m not a pitching coach. Maybe it’s a Chris Shelton thing, where they see a guy who’s just not going to get “better enough.” Ever.