Saturday, July 23, 2005

Slip Sliding Away

Dontrelle's ERA is
going through the roof
At the end of April, I gave Pedro my "First Month Fantasy Cy Young Award" over Dontrelle Willis. Part of the reason was D-Train's track record of falling apart late in the season; the tie-breaker went to Pedro. I took quite a bit of heat for that one. I went on a radio show and predicted that Willis would crumble after the calendar flipped to July and was chided for "assuming the worst." Well, unfortunately for Willis, it looks like I may have been right on this one. Just as he has in his first two major league seasons, Dontrelle is getting lit up in the second half of the season.

To read the rest of this thread, click on the link titled "Slip Sliding Away" on the right side.


Adam Hoff said...

When Willis won his 12th game in June, the pundits launched a flurry of pro-Dontrelle stories. All of the talk was about a new training regime with Juan Pierre. Or it was about some sage advice he had received in the offseason. Or how he knows the batters better. The bottom line is that everyone proclaimed him bulletproof for the second half. No one even hinted at a possible collapse. In fact, they sneered at those who would doubt the almighty Dontrelle.

Well, they were wrong. And don't misunderstand what I am trying to say. I don't dislike Willis - in fact I think he's a crack up and is generally great for baseball - its that I hate smug journalists telling me that I'm an idiot just because I happen to place more value in career trends than I do in my "gut instinct" or my "baseball senses." Well, it turns out trusting those trends actually makes some sense. The proof is in the numbers:

2003 - He threw 82 innings before the All-Star break and became a media darling by going 9-1 with a 2.08 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. In the 78 innings after the break, he struggled to a 5-5 record, 4.60 ERA, and 1.40 WHIP. He was ultimately sent to the bullpen for the playoffs and contributed very little the Marlins World Series title. Everyone chalked up the meltdown to the fact that he was a rookie.

2004 - Sure enough, Willis put the erratic second half of 2003 behind him, coming out of the gates with 3-0, 2.73 April. However, he only got his ERA under 4.00 in a month once the rest of the season and finished with a disappointing 10-11 record and a 4.02 ERA.

And now it appears to be happening again. After posting ERA's of 1.29, 2.06, and 2.62 in April, May, and June (note the subtle progression), he now has a ghastly 7.58 mark through three July starts. In the last 19 innings, his ERA has gone up almost a run and a half.

Whether it is an issue of maturity, batters figuring him out, his wild motion taking its toll on his mechanics, or just some strange coincidence, Willis definitely appears to be the epitome of a first half pitcher. Whether he gets shipped off to the bullpen again is a different matter altogether, but one thing is for sure ... if Willis starts off hot again next year for your fantasy team, trade him ASAP. Provided someone is still naive enough to fall for it.

Chris said...

I was getting my old "don't be a hater" response all queued up, but then I realized, damn, Willis does suck in the second half. Until I see otherwise ... preach on, brother.

Anonymous said...

Hey dude, D-Train with shutout ball last time out. Suck it.

Anonymous said...

Willis will still win 20 games. He had a rough patch for three or four games ... who doesn't? He will still be there up for Cy Young consideration. You are just a hater, for whatever reason.

Adam Hoff said...

I certainly don't hate Dontrelle, nor do I even dislike him. I just point out statistical evidence that indicates a trend. Besides, one good start against the Pirates doesn't exactly prove anything. I'm sure he will have several good starts from here on out, but the idea is that his numbers will be much worse in the second half of the season.

And as for winning the Cy Young, that appears highly unlikely. Even if he maintains his current pace, his solid 3.07 ERA ranks only eighth in the NL and his WHIP of 1.18 is a distant 14th. He's got a nice win count, but that's about it. I don't see how he even approaches Carpenter, Pedro, Clemens, or Oswalt.

Finally, consider this: if the Marlins reached the playoffs, who would they give the ball to for the biggest games? I'm afraid that answer is not Dontrelle Willis. In fact, he's probably be third in the rotation behind Beckett and Burnett.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he should straighten his stupid ass hat.