Anxiety battles, an inconsistent delivery, weight issues and a leg injury from a slick mound in Chicago. This was Dontrelle Willis’ time in a Tigers uniform before Opening Day 2009. The former Marlins phenomenon looked to be a natural fit in Detroit when he joined Miguel Cabrera on the trip north following the 2007 season. Instead, Tigers fans are left to think whether Willis was a mere throw-in as part of this blockbuster trade.
Tonight against the Rangers, Dontrelle Wayne Willis will look for his 69th career win against a Texas team stacked with scrappy hitters. More importantly, he is on borrowed time as a starter for the Tigers and needs to show more than a zero walk performance that was filled with numerous hard hit balls. Jeremy Bonderman seems mere weeks away from returning to the Tigers lineup, and while Galarraga is struggling, Verlander, Porcello and Jackson have been rock solid to this point.
There has been some good news to this point and that has been Dontrelle’s willingness to work alongside the Tigers coaching staff to get the ship/train righted. Pitching coach Rick Knapp has been brilliant taking a bullpen that was seen by many as week and shaping it into a group firing strikes consistently. While Knapp’s tenure in a Tigers uniform may not depend on his success with Willis, his ability to turn Willis around could send his stock through the roof.