Dontrelle Willis pitched arguably his best game for the Detroit Tigers Thursday night, earning his first victory since May of 2009.
This is only Willis's second victory since arriving in the Miguel Cabrera trade and signing a three year extension.
Willis has struggled since coming to the American league. This is a step in the right direction for Willis who is still a fairly young pitcher at 28-years-old. Its easy to forget Willis has pitched in the world series (2003,) won rookie of the year, and won more than 20 games in a year (2005.)
Willis is pitching this year instead of throwing. He has a 1.25 K/BB far better than the last two years (.61 and .51) and his WHIP is a respectable 1.54.
Willis still needs to work on his control and cutting down on the free passes, but he is pitching like he is capable of winning 10-12 games this year assuming the Tigers provide enough offense for him.
The game against the Twins saw Willis strike out six in six innings of work. Willis has never been a big strike out pitcher. In 2005 when he had his best year going 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA Willis only struck out 170 in 236.1 innings. Willis needs to force batters to put the ball in play and rely on his defense.
Its early but so far it appears the D-Train is getting back on the right track. He has given the Tigers a couple of quality starts and is showing he is ready to be a contributor at the major league level again.
For the Tigers and Willis's sake lets hope so.