OK, so I'll admit I'm pretty excited about this one. I mean, Dontrelle Willis! He's back! You might remember him as the man who led the Marlins to the World Series and stole the NL Rookie of the Year award from Scott Podsednik in 2003 when he had a 3.30 ERA and 3.45 FIP in 27 starts. You might remember his 2005 season when he had a 2.63 ERA, a 2.99 FIP and was second in Cy Young Award voting to Chris Carpenter. He also was 11th in MVP voting that year. You might remember him from his funky pitching motion. You might remember him from the enormous trade that sent Willis and Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers for Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Mike Rabelo and Eulogio De La Cruz--four, at-the-time, big-time prospects.
But it's more likely that you remember his fall from grace in Detroit. His shortened 2008 season when he had a 9.38 ERA (and 8.30 FIP) in just seven starts. His 7.49 ERA (which, coincidentally, was also his BB/9) in 2009 in just seven starts. Over those two seasons, he made 14 starts and had an 8.27 ERA, a 9.8 BB/9, a 5.5 K/9 and over a 2 WHIP.
Willis started 13 games last season for Detroit and Arizona. He was slightly better, with a 5.62 ERA and FIP. And the Reds picked him up in the offseason as a low risk, high reward candidate. They kept him down in the minors, where he had a 2.63 ERA and 3.13 FIP in 13 starts. He had his walk rate back down and his K rate back up. But that was in the minors. Now, the Reds have brought him back up to the major leagues where they hope that he can find his form from his Marlins' days and help Cincinnati in the stretch run. It's worth a shot, right?
Going off last year's data, Willis throws an 89 MPH four seamer, an 85 MPH changeup, and an 81 MPH slider. In his career, Willis has never faced a current Brewer more than seven times.
His opponent today is Randy Wolf (6-6, 3.72), who is having a fine season for the Brewers as their fourth or fifth starter. At this point, I'm not sure there is much I can say about Wolf that you don't already know. I will tell you, though, that he has faced eight different Reds' pitchers at least ten times. Here is how they have fared:
I haven't seen it yet, but if you have feel free to post it in the comments.
In the bullpen:
Cody Scarpetta is freshly called up.
Takashi Saito pitched 1 inning (19 pitches) yesterday.
John Axford pitched 1 inning (11 pitches) yesterday.