It’s no secret that the Orioles need as much pitching as they can get; therefore, they signed left-hander Dontrelle Willis today.
From the Orioles.com: SARASOTA, Fla. — In the Orioles’ continuing efforts to stockpile pitching, the club signed lefty Dontrelle Willis, who will be utilized as a reliever, to a Minor League deal on Tuesday night.
Willis, who signed a non-guaranteed one-year deal with the Phillies this winter, was released on Friday after making just three Grapefruit League appearances. He allowed five runs in 2 2/3 innings this spring and dealt with some arm soreness before Philadelphia pulled the plug and granted him free agency.
The National League Rookie of the Year in 2003, Willis has won four games since ’08, but at 30 years old, he’s still young enough for clubs to take a gamble. He was 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA for the Reds last year, but he held left-handed hitters to a .127 average, prompting the Phillies to sign him as a potential reliever.
I loved Willis when he came up with the Marlins. The southpaw seemed like a fun guy, and boy he could pitch with that windup of his. However, he lost his way in his late 20’s and has been bouncing around trying to recapture lost glory. It was startling to see him go into such a decline and just lose his effectiveness on the mound.
At this point, he’s just another arm that could potentially help out the Orioles. Um, maybe.
I don’t see him ever starting again at the top of the rotation; however, if he could work as a specialist in the bullpen against left-handed batters, Willis could be of some worth for Baltimore. That is, if he can still pitch effectively and get guys out.