A few days ago, the Cincinnati Reds demoted struggling starting pitcher Edinson Volquez to the minors. It's the second time Volquez has been demoted this year for underperformance. The first time, he was replaced by Mike Leake. This time, he is not being replaced by Mike Leake. Jerry Crasnick:
Yeah, that's the Dontrelle Willis, and Willis will be the tenth pitcher to start a game for the Reds this season.
The last time we saw Willis in the majors, he was terrible, posting a 5.62 ERA with the Tigers and Diamondbacks in 2010 with 56 walks and 47 strikeouts. It was his third year in a row with more walks than strikeouts, and he wasn't much better during his time in the minors, either. But something has changed in 2011. Here's what Willis has done as a starter with triple-A Louisville:
- 2.63 ERA
- 75-1/3 innings
- 20 walks
- 67 strikeouts
Willis has thrown 64% strikes - an excellent figure, for him - he's missed bats, and he's generated groundballs. In short, he's looked good, and while it's too soon to say whether he's bounced back, he's earned the opportunity to show what he can do. So now he will get that opportunity.
Willis won't stick around long if he struggles, but there's a chance he could remain with the Reds if he's effective, so put him on your Sunday watch list, if you have one. He might be considered a long shot, but there are few more enjoyable players to root for.