Willis starting Sunday, Bonderman to pen

The Tigers rotation situation has been solved. Dontrelle Willis will make his next start Sunday at Pittsburgh, while Jeremy Bonderman is headed for the bullpen for now.

The move brings Detroit’s starting ranks from six pitchers to five after Monday’s day-night doubleheader. What it means for Bonderman’s return from shoulder problems remains to be seen.

Willis is winless in his last four starts with an 8.53 ERA and 16 walks over 19 innings since holding the Rangers scoreless over 6 1/3 innings May 19 at Comerica Park. However, Willis has competed on the mound to make his stuff work, a facet possibly never more evident than his outing Tuesday against the White Sox.

Despite five walks and five hits over as many innings, Willis held Chicago to three runs, leaving with a tie score before Detroit eventually pulled it out. He seemingly injured his right knee sliding into home plate for a tag attempt, then made his final out with a diving stop on the first-base side of the mound and a throw to first from the ground.

Once Willis’ knee was fine Wednesday, manager Jim Leyland’s decision was made.

“I think Dontrelle certainly deserves to go out there Sunday,” Leyland said. “I really like the way he competed.”

Willis’ outing came a day after Bonderman made his first Major League start in a year, taking a loss against the White Sox with six runs on eight hits over four-plus innings. Three of those hits were home runs.

It has been a slow process for Bonderman to regain his velocity after surgery last summer to correct a blood vessel restriction in his shoulder, and his fastball topped out at 91 mph Monday. He spent his Minor League rehab assignment trying to learn how to focus more on changing speeds and locating rather than being a power pitcher like in the past. That process will continue from somewhere other than Detroit’s rotation.

Bonderman was in the bullpen Tuesday night with a shortened Tigers relief staff, but Leyland said nothing about Bonderman’s role going past this series.

11 Comments

I don’t know. I think Bonderman deserves another start before being relegated to the bullpen. The Tigers have money tied up in Willis and probably want to get a better return on that money.

I like this idea. It gives Bonderman a little while to get used to throwing to Major League hitters without putting too much pressure on him. Also, I think it gives Dontrelle another chance to get into a rhythm. It doesn’t mean its permanent.

I think the better thought behind this is give Bondo more time to tune his abilities while letting a NL pitcher (Willis) pitch some NL games. In turn, at least for one or two games, letting our NL manager work his magic.

Considering that we need hitting right now more than pitching, having Willis in there is definitely a plus. That dude can rake!
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As much as I like Bonderman, I honestly think he needs to be in the minors. What’s the rush with him? We’re in first! And he’s clearly not the Jeremy Bonderman we want. Might as well wait it out until the velocity returns. Try Willis for a few more starts; if that doesn’t work out, maybe Bonderman will be ready, or go with Miner. If that doesn’t work, try for a reliable fifth starter at the deadline. No big whoop.
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But we do need bullpen help. I really think Huston Street’s the guy to go for. He’s been lights-out for the Rockies over the past month and a half — much of it at Coors Field. He’s only 25, and he’s still arbitration eligible. No idea what it would take to get that guy, but he’s as solid as they come when he’s healthy, and the Rockies are totally out of it.

I am ok with this, at least for the National League games – it appears Bondo needs a bit more time to get back up to speed, but I wish him well and hope we can work something out for him – he deserves it but also has to be able to perform.

Another rough offensive night – a hr by Everett and a bases loaded walk to Raburn. But I love the win and love the determined look on Verlander’s face. Do I think he is a touch arrogant – yes, and normally I don’t like that – but I love how he is believing in himself again this year, and that my friends will prove to be the big difference from last year – that and how well he is locating his stuff this year.

It’s a good move. This is still a fluid situation and nothing is etched in stone.
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I had no confidence that Willis could ever be effective again, but he showed me something Tuesday night. I know he’s a happy go lucky sort of person, but I like him better when he gets a little mean and serious when on the hill. The results are what they are, but I saw something I liked. Also, his strike to ball ratio was pretty good for awhile there. Now, he was facing a rather poor hitting team, but pitchers make their money shutting down poor hitting teams. And I don’t think the Boston Red Sox are a fair test for any pitcher, as they’re rather unique in their approach.
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As for Bonderman, he just needs to build up his arm strength and I don’t see why he can’t do that here in the bullpen. Isn’t that a lot of long toss and exercises and such?
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Good move for now, but you want to bring back Perry at some point.
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Since I’m behind the plate on Sunday at Pittsburgh, I’m looking forward to seeing Dontrelle swing the bat.
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I’m going to hide this down here in the bottom of this post: I’ll whisper……..pssst…………Lyon as closer. Don’t tell anyone, cuz they’ll get mad.
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–Rich

Yikes – Rich – I heard it and I can’t say I believe it! I am always willing to be proven wrong though! Have fun at the game!

And that person is me, Rich. Lyon is not a closer, despite what he did in Arizona at the beginning of last year. He just doesn’t have the right mix of pitches, and he walks way too many guys. As a mop-up guy or a guy to come in in the 7th down by one or with the score tied, sure, he’s passable. But come on. Tuesday’s game kinda proved why. Sure, he pitched an effective 10th inning, but I think the White Sox were in shock at that point — plus he was facing the ***-end of the order. In the ninth when he came in to clean up Rodney’s mess, he walked Thome with the bases loaded to put the winning run on, and then lost Konerko on an 0-2 pitch. That’s not really any better than what Rodney could have done — or would have done if he hadn’t pitched three days in a row. Personally, I think they should just flip-flop Rodney and Zumaya and try that out for a while before figuring out what to do, but then again, Rodney has only blown one save so far.

Probably see Raburn at firstbase today. 10 for 25 with a homer off Floyd. Cabrera to DH is my guess.
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–Rich

I just don’t know if I think that Bondo is ready. He clearly isn’t very effective right now. He is either going to have to gain 5 miles per hour on his fast ball or learn how to spot the pitch instead. Chicago was having batting practice against him the other day and they are a team that I believe is hitting worse than the Tigers right now.
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Didn’t see the game last night other than the last inning and a half. What I take from it was that Verlander was great and the hitters well, lets say they had their chances to blow it open and didn’t. I think that I read that the bases were loaded with one out and only got one run and that was because of a bases loaded walk????? Still would like to see the offense pick it up a bit. (a lot)
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I agree Raburn has good numbers against Flyod. So I would expect to see him in the lineup. I understand that it is raining quite a bit and from what I understand it is going to be hard to get this one in. Hope the Tigers play ball today.
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GO TIGERS
GO WINGS
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GK

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Well; it seems like everyone else is in agreement about Bonderman. All the other comments are saying he needs more time to build up his arm strength. Bonderman did show some good off-speed stuff during his rehab. He just wasn’t able to bring that into this game. Perhaps it is better to use Willis while the Tigers are playing the National League. We must also remember there is no guarantee Bonderman will regain all his former velocity. I like the quirk in the schedule that sees the Penguins in Detroit and the Tigers in Pittsburgh on Friday. Go Motor City!!!

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