Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis pitches in the sixth inning of the game against the Houston Astros at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Over the last four Major League Baseball seasons, Dontrelle Willis is 4-15 with a 6.15 ERA.
Nevertheless, this winter the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to pay Willis $850,000 to pitch baseballs in 2012, perhaps on the strength of his outstanding numbers against left-handed batters while starting 13 games for the Reds in 2011; in 55 at-bats, lefties collected only seven hits against Willis.
Granted, that's not an overly large sample size. But just considering Willis's style, he would figure to give left-handed hitters fits. Which he did. And so the Phillies, with nary an opening in their starting rotation, brought Willis aboard with hopes that he could become a valuable lefty reliefer.
Which he might.
So far, though, things aren't going so well.
Today he pitched against the Astros and gave up three hits and two walks while retiring only two batters.
Which resulted in this:
Dontrelle Willis indicated his arm is tired and could step back from current program. "I was horseshit," he said.— Matt Gelb (@magelb) March 7, 2012
and then, this:
Pitching coach Rich Dubee said Dontrelle Willis has sore arm and will be checked out tomorrow.#phillies— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) March 7, 2012
And what's next, who knows? One can imagine tweets about a dead arm or biceps tendonitis or something involving doctors and really sharp knives. Though of course we hope not. Willis finished last season with a 5.00 ERA and a horseshit strikeout-to-walk ratio, but he did occasional show signs of his past greatness. He showed a great deal of character, merely by returning to the mound last season and starting those 13 games.
We couldn't help hoping for more, though. Oh, and that $850,000? There's a catch. Willis has to actually make the team to get paid. And right now his chances aren't looking so hot.