Dontrelle Willis and his trademark leg kick will head to Detroit looking to return to 2005 form, when Willis won 22 games while posting a microscopic 2.63 ERA
The Florida Marlins, baseballs perennial fire-salers, have agreed to send 24-year old stud Miguel Cabrera and 25-year old fan favorite Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers in exchange for a plethora of talent. We can all agree that there isn’t a prospect alive that we wouldn’t send for Cabrera, but many believe that Willis could be a major bust.
Although many in the baseball world are pointing to Willis’s quickly declining numbers (note the yearly increase in ERA, WHIP, and HR along with decreases in W, CG, SHO, IP, and SO since 2005), I think there is reason to believe that we may see at least a brief resurgence in Dontrelle’s career.
It’s no secret that Dontrelle’s early success was tied to his funky delivery, which confused a lot of hitters. Scouts claim that the high leg kick and inconsistent arm slot were effectively deceptive early in his career, helping him post Cy Young-like numbers despite having just above average stuff. However, scouts are saying now that National League hitters have seen him for five years, they have figured him out, thus the declining numbers. Also, mechanical issues are making Dontrelle’s control and his stuff fairly inconsistent, although I doubt his stuff has gotten that much worse since ’05.
Moving to the American League might be an okay move for Willis, at least for a while. With catcher Ivan Rodriguez calling the game for him, Willis could very well make a strong comeback this year while American League hitters try to figure him out. Granted, hitters have scouting reports built already, which means it won’t take five years for guys to get around his deceptive delivery, but there is reason to believe Willis could be successful, especially with a monstrous line-up behind him.
As for the Fish, there’s reason to be excited about the crop of players that have been brought in. Cameron Maybin is an absolute stud talent-wise, and has the potential to be a top-notch, five-tool player in the near future. The real gem of this trade, however, is 6-foot-6 pitcher Andrew Miller. Though still decidedly raw, Miller has the potential to be a top of the rotation guy. His mid-90’s, ¾ fastball comes with a heavy sink, allowing him to induce an abundance of ground balls. He needs work on establishing some secondary stuff, but as ESPN’s Eric Karabell says, he might already be a better value pitcher than Willis.