Sports Outside the Beltway

Detroit Tigers demote Dontrelle Willis to Class A Ball

Three years ago Willis was a Cy Young candidate. Now he can’t find the strike zone. From AP-

DETROIT – After watching yet another wild show on the mound, the Detroit Tigers sent Dontrelle Willis down to Class A on Tuesday in hopes the struggling lefty can find his control.

The Tigers optioned Willis to Lakeland of the Florida State League — and home to the Tigers’ spring training camp — a day after he matched a career high by giving eight earned runs on five walks and three hits in 1 1-3 innings against Cleveland.

Willis (0-1) has walked 21 batters in 11 1-3 innings. The 8-2 loss to the Indians came in his second start since going on the disabled list with a hyperextended right knee.

“Our objective is to get Dontrelle back to being Dontrelle,” Tigers president, CEO and general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “We don’t want to put a time frame on this. We want to get it right. The arm strength is still there, on occasion. The breaking ball is still there. But we want to get him back to being comfortable throwing strikes.”

Detroit signed Willis to a $29 million, three-year deal after getting him in a trade last winter with the Florida Marlins.

I like Willis and sincerely hope he finds the strike zone again. Baseball history says however the prospects aren’t good. From Steve Blass to Mark Davis to Rick Ankiel(Remember he first came up as a pitcher), pitchers who suddenly lost their control as dramatically as Willis have had great difficulty regaining it.

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