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Phillies Will Try To Reinvent Willis As A Reliever

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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Posted by on Dec 13 2011. Filed under BREAKING NEWS, News, NFL, Phillies, Pitchers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

9 Comments for “Phillies Will Try To Reinvent Willis As A Reliever”

  1. this has potential to be a huge deal for the phils… low risk/high reward is exactly what it is.
    Ruben thinking out of the box. If any of you have noticed the situational lefthander is a big part of baseball and especially the national league. In about 2007 teams started getting them by the busload because it was evident that you would have to face ibanez, utley and howard at some point late in games if you wanted to beat the phils.
    this is a great move…not earth shattering or glamorous but…

  2. Yeah, I like this. His numbers against LH hitters last year were even better than his career numbers. .127 BA for LH hitters against him last year. I would assume that they spoke to him about being a RP before they signed him, so he should be on board.

  3. Too many Control Issues to come out the Bullpen to be counted on in my opinion but is definitely worth the risk to take, let’s see how he does in the Spring Training but I would not pencil him anywhere just yet..
    (If nothing else, he would be an updrade as a PH than Ben Francisco was..WIllis can handle the bat pretty well from what I recall)

  4. I’ll be expecting you too pick the Phills this year to win the East Paul. This should sway you.

    How did they let Aramis get away? Cuddyer? I dont trust Polly at 3rd all year.

  5. I thought Aramas was going to get a larger contract
    I think he signed a 3 year – $39 million Deal which teh Phils could afford
    I think the Phils can trade Polanco/Blanton but would have to eat some $$$ in doing so, but having Ramirez could have really solidified this line-up..
    I like what the Marlins and Nationals are doing and I think maybe 92-94 Games wins the NFC East in 2012 for the top 4 Teams Phils,Braves,Marlins,Nats will beat each other up and down most of the Season..
    I think with the Phils getting Nix,Wigginton,Thome, I think they are done getting as far as adding and OF unless it’s in a trade…

    I see the Cardinals signed IF Skip Shumacher to a 2 Year deal and have releaed IF Ryan Theriot who I always liked .. If the Phils get rid of Polanco, Theriot would not be a bad piece to add who can play 2B/3B Pinch Hit and Pinch Run and even play OF in a pinch..

  6. Another Note
    Braves have released RHP Reliever/Spot Starter Peter Boylan whoc would also been a nice pick-up.. He’s 31 now and has been kind of a utility PItcher for the Braves (similar to Kendrick with the Phils) canStart, Long Reliever but I can envision his a 7th Inning/Ground Ball specialist similar to what role Chad Durbin was with the Phils a coupld years back, not real hard stuff, but a nasty slider, 3/4 arm angle and decent guy from all account.. He did have some back surgery about 2 years ago and the Braves are loaded with Pitching that they really don’t need him any longer..

  7. These are the kind of head scratching, bonehead moves that Amaro makes me go nuts with. Amaro you need everyday hitters! Not overpaid closers, has been pitchers, & career platoon players. Stop wasting $$$ on guys who are going to help your everyday lineup. If he thinks going into this year with the same lineup, & thing are going to miraculously change, he’s nuts. I hope he has something sneaky in store for us, because nothing has excited me so far. Especially under the premise of bringing back Rollins & not doing anything else.

  8. *Meant not going to help your everyday lineup.*

  9. 3B Aramis Ramirez could have been the big missing piece for this everyday line-up and the Brewers getting him on a 3 Years $36 Million Deal was the signing of the Free-Agnecy period so far.. I wonder if the Phils even pursued or talked to him and his agent… A blunder not getting him in my opinion..
    Check this Guys last 6-7 Years in the bigs… Averaging 25-30 HR’s 85-90 RBI’s and a batting average of .290 to.300 just about every season in addition to being a pretty darn good fielder at 3B… .

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