The deal is reportedly for $1 million, plus incentives.
Willis hasn’t been en effective starter in the major leagues in a long time, or really an effective pitcher period. He spent most of last year in Cincinnati. Over 13 starts for the Reds in the second half of 2011, Willis put up a 5.00 ERA with a K/9 rate of 6.8 and a BB/9 rate of 4.4. That’s not exactly All-Star level. He needs to have better control to keep seeing the mound.
That said, his 75 2/3 innings pitched were the most he’d thrown since 2007, so maybe he’ll be able to build on that. But yeah, probably not. Still, the quirky left hander is only 29 (30 next month) and if he can somehow remember how to pitch like he did as a young phenom it’s not a bad signing.
And his numbers against lefties last year are actually pretty encouraging. He had a batting average against of only .127 with a .169 OBP and .200 SLG. He also had a 20:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Not bad.
Oh yeah, and he hit .387. So he can not only be a lefty specialist out of the pen but a lefty bat off the bench as well.
But really, the most intriguing aspect of the deal is the fact that Willis is a very good friend of Jimmy Rollins. With the Brewers signing Aramis Ramirez and stating they’re out of the Jimmy Rollins sweepstakes, not to mention the Cardinals re-signing shortstop Rafael Furcal, a Phillies-Rollins reunion seems inevitable (on a Phillies-friendly deal). Having Willis around can’t hurt.
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