Yesterday the Phillies gave Dontrelle Willis his walking papers. I’m not sure if he got the red tag in his locker, à la Major League, but he won’t be pitching in a Phillies uniform this season. His brief tenure with the team lasted only 93 days, as the veteran lefty couldn’t make it past the first round of cuts.
Willis was brought in to fill the oh-so-important role of “second lefty reliever” that comes into play more and more in the increasingly popular cat and mouse game between managers. Whether or not the statistics back up this favored lefty-lefty matchup is a matter for my statistically-inclined colleagues to determine. What it does provide is a lot of second chances for once-great left-handed pitchers, like Dontrelle.
Shortly after signing with the club, there was more speculation about Willis’s prowess at the plate than on the mound. The man is a .244 hitter with 9 home runs in his career; not bad for a former Cy Young runner up. Maybe he could have been another left-handed option off the bench when he wasn’t pitching. I doubt Charlie ever really considered the option seriously, but now we’ll never know.
One man who will be sad to see Willis go is his childhood friend Jimmy Rollins. In an interview with Scott Palmer of Phillies.com, Rollins had to dawn dark sunglasses–no doubt to hide the tears gushing from his eyes. Then again, it could have just been the Florida sun. Rollins gave a very diplomatic response to the D-Train’s release, praising the fact that he will have ample time to find a spot with another club before the season begins.
Maybe another team will give Willis a shot at relieving, just as the Phillies did. However, the odds are against him succeeding in the role. The man has a career WHIP of 1.433 and can be flat out wild to put it nicely. He was effectively wild in his early days with the Marlins, but his lack of control just isn’t suited for spot duty out of the pen. Much like the D-Train I take to work every morning, the only thing you can rely on is his inconsistency.