Willis being mixed into rotation

It’s been a couple weeks since Dontrelle Willis came off the disabled list. He’s made all of one appearance. That will change this week when he splits a start with splits a start with Armando Galarraga.

Willis will pitch the first 4 to 5 innings and Galarraga will pitch the rest. It’s an unorthodox move to be sure.

The fact of the matter is Willis can’t not pitch for the team. To consider Willis a sunk cost 6 innings into a 3 year deal is wildly premature so they have to find a way to work him in. At the same time he needs to work on his control issues and only so much can be accomplished in side sessions. This gives him a chance at an extended outing.

Initially this doesn’t appear to be a permanent move:

“Willis is not taking Galarraga’s place as we speak,” Leyland said. “I’m just trying to figure out a way to get him out there (and) how we need to use him if he eventually is going to move back into the rotation permanently.”

This does effectively reduce the bullpen by a pitcher (which can probably be done regardless). It also means that the Tigers are only carrying one lefty in the pen in the form of Bobby Seay.


  1. Eric Cioe

    May 31, 2008 at 11:00 am

    This seems like a really good idea. Galarraga has been looking less than dominant his last few starts, even given his results in LA. He went from being the guy that didn’t walk anyone to the guy that walks 3 a game now. For now, the hits aren’t falling against him but you have to remember than he’s a groundball (sinker-slider) guy who is giving up a lot of fly ball outs. That’s scary.

    I think 4-5 innings of each could be a really nice strategy in the short term. The question is, what happens when Rapada and Bautista get back? Miner has been looking good lately. Dolsi has shown some promise. Lopez is regressing. Rapada has been really good this year and Seay has been average, so it’d be nice to get Rapada back.

  2. jason

    May 31, 2008 at 11:17 am

    The only way this seems good is that Willis will probably blow his chance early in the game, and this can all be forgotten and he can go back to the bullpen.

    Galarraga is pitching well. Reducing his role at this point is silly.

  3. Chris

    May 31, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I think they should just fake another injury with Willis and get him to pitch Toledo for a while until he can get his control in order. Otherwise, wait for Rogers to struggle in a game and then put him on a DL tired arm break.

  4. T Smith

    May 31, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    This is certainly a good way to test the waters. I just hope it doesn’t result in a throw-away game, cuz the Tigers can’t afford too many of those.

    But on the calculated side of the risk, you can always pull Willis early if he’s out of control, before too much damage is done, while providing him every opportunity to right his ship at the same time.

    I’ll follow this little experiement on the edge of my seat, without too much opinion about it either way.

  5. Drew

    May 31, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    I think the idea is a good move, but do it on rogers or robertsons day not on the best started you have right now. Then again its kinda a reverse i guess if willis can give you a solid 4 his confidence begans to grow and you have a proven person closing the game out. And if willis bombs which i dont think he will, you have a pitcher waiting thats a starter and it wont bomb your bullpen.With all that said if we can get willis back to form he is better than every other starter the tigers have except verlander.

  6. Drew

    May 31, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Lets face it we r so hard on willis and he has only pitched 6 innings. And in his first game he took a no hitter into the fifth, there were alot of walks but lets give the guy a chance to do what he does before we throw him under the bus.

  7. Eric Cioe

    May 31, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Armando Galarraga, May 2008

    31.2 IP
    18 ER (4.55 ERA)
    25 H (7.11/9IP)
    16 BB (4.55/9IP)
    20 SO (5.68/9IP)
    4 HR (.867/9IP)
    0.88 GO/AO (More fly outs than groundouts for a groundball pitcher!)

    Walking a guy every other inning, striking barely more than that out, high home run rate, and he isn’t keeping the ball on the ground. The only thing keeping him successful is his BABIP of .205, which is one of the lowest in the league. It’s pretty much a given that average BABIP is .300, and anyone much under that (like Cliff Lee or Galarraga) or over that (like Andrew Miller) is going to regress to the norm. With the peripherals that Galarraga has – you know, walking a guy every other inning, striking out almost no one, and giving up a ton of fly outs (as a groundball pitcher, no less!) – he isn’t going to be able to sustain this performance! Everyone thinks he’s some great pitcher, some calling him the ace of the staff. He’s gotten very lucky. And his luck has started to run out. I don’t care how many shutout innings he threw the other night. He isn’t all that good, and the numbers show it. He certainly isn’t good enough to keep Dontrelle sitting around when he’s pitched a whopping 5 innings as a starter in Detroit.