Dontrelle Willis (D-Train) returns to MLB on Sunday in the last game before the All-Star break as he gets the start for the Cincinnati Reds against the Milwaukee Brewers in Miller Park in Milwaukee. The 28-year-old Willis had a wonderful start to his career but after a 3.44 ERA in his first four years in MLB winning both a ROY and CY Young, Willis inexplicably imploded.
As a rookie in 2003 he went 14-6 with a 3.31 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 160 2/3 innings for the World Champion Florida Marlins. He won Rookie of the Year honors and was an All-Star. In 2005 he went 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA winning the NL CY Young Award. By the time he left in 2007, his ERA had ballooned to 5.17 and his record was 10-15.
On December 5, 2007, the Marlins traded Willis in a blockbuster deal along with Miguel Cabrera for what at the time were thought to be two can’t miss prospects, Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller along with Make Ravelo, Eulogio De La Cruz, Dallas Trahern and Burke Badenhop. In one of the worst contracts in recent memory, Detroit signed Willis to a $29 million contract extension, but his command problems only worsened.
Willis made only 22 starts for the Tigers in three seasons and was put on the disabled list twice in his last season with what the team called an anxiety disorder. He was 1-2 with a 4.99 ERA this season and 2-8 with a 6.86 ERA overall for Detroit. On June 2, 2010 Willis was finally traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for right-hander Billy Buckner. Things didn’t exactly work out there either as he went 1-1 with a 6.85 ERA in 22.1 innings.
Because of his fast start, Willis has a career winning record of 71-63 in the majors however this will be his first Major League Start since June 29, 2010. Willis went 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA with Louisville this season, and it is said that he is physically sound.
With Willis’ return to MLB, the question “Ok, now what about Oliver Perez?” begs to be asked. Perez who signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals after being released by the Mets during spring training has pitched 29 innings for Double-A Harrisburg.
Now hold on to your shorts boys and girls… In 29 innings Perez has a 2.483 ERA with a WHIP of only 1.138. He’s walked on five batters and struck out 25. While one Nationals official has gone on record as stating “I don’t think we’ll be seeing him in the big leagues any time soon,” if he continues to throw strikes, you can be certain that some franchise will take a flyer on the lefty; they always do.
* Perez is currently on the disabled list for Double-A Harrisburg with an injury to his lat.
BTW – I just want to point out that I may have the only MLB article on the internet today that doesn’t mention that Derek Jeter went 5-5 yesterday getting his 3,000th hit on a home run. Oops!
Now that Jeter has 3,000, can we stop counting and get back to talking about the actual games?
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