Phillies Will Try To Reinvent Willis As A RelieverBREAKING NEWS, News, NFL, Phillies, Pitchers Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
The Phillies made a move to improve their bullpen depth on Tuesday, signing veteran Dontrelle Willis to one-year contract. The veteran was once considered a rising star after posting a 22-10 record with a 2.63 ERA in 2005 with the Florida Marlins. Since that magical season, the lefthander has almost completely fallen off of the map.
In addition to his time with the Marlins, Willis has pitched with the Tigers and Reds, and has struggled to stay in the major leagues. He made 13 starts for Cincinnati last season, compiling a 1-6 record with an ERA of 5.00 in 75.2 innings.
The Phillies hope that Willis will be able to flourish for them as a reliever. Though he has ultimately failed as a starter, he’s always been very effective against lefthanded hitters, keeping them to a respectable line of .200/.274/.288. He’s only made three career appearances out of the bullpen.
If Willis can become a reliable option, he would become an excellent compliment to setup man Antonio Bastardo. Bastardo was an invaluable member of the pitching staff in 2011, but wore down late in the season because of the extensive amount of work he had received. The Phillies were never able to find a second lefthanded reliever that could take some of the pressure off of the rookie. They tried to give veterans J.C. Romero and Juan Perez opportunities to earn positions in the bullpen, but neither player was able to gain the confidence of manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee.
This is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Phillies. There’s no question that Willis has the talent to become a solid addition to the bullpen. The Phillies have had some success in the past converting former starters to relievers. Two years ago Jose Contreras, a starter most of his career, came to Philadelphia and successfully made the conversion into a dependable reliever. We’ll see Willis can embrace the role of a reliever and succeed like Contreras did.
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