Dontrelle Willis is schedule to make his 2009 debut tonight. If nothing else, it will be interesting.
Hopefully, some how, some way, Willis can recapture a bit of his 2005 magic. In 2005, Willis was 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA. He had 5 shutouts. He gave up only 0.4 HR/9. He gave up only 2.1 BB/9 and had 6.5 K/9.
Since then, his ERA has gone 3.87 to 5.17 to 9.38. His HR/9 increased 0.8 to 1.3 to 1.5. His K rate was practically unchanged but his BB/9 went 3.3 to 3.8 to 13.1. Yep, 13.1. Granted, last year's numbers are based on only 24 IP, but it's still scary. Also, he plunked 34 batters over the past three season compared to 19 in his first three seasons.
The Tigers need to figure out what to do with Willis. Here's the thing: He doesn't need to be an All-Star (even though his contract will pay him as such). He doesn't even need to be a No. 2. Heck, if Jeremy Bonderman comes back and pitches well, Willis could be the No. 5 through no fault of his own. Or he could be in the pen. Wherever he ends up, I would take anything in the neighborhood of average.
Speaking of Bonderman, he is supposed to pitch at Single-A West Michigan on Saturday.