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High (And Outside) Anxiety

Dontrelle Willis Fantasy Baseball Projection 2011

One of the great mysteries of the past few seasons is that of Dontrelle Willis.  the 2003 National League Rookie of the Year finished last season in the Bush Leagues playing for Triple-A Fresno.

DERAILED: D-Train fights to get back on track.

DERAILED: D-Train fights to get back on track.

It wasn’t long ago, 2005 in fact, that Willis led all of baseball with 22 wins.  Since then, however, the southpaw with the unusual delivery hasn’t been able to hold a regular starting position.  Two knee injuries laid up Willis in 2008 with Detroit and in 2009, he was on the DL for anxiety disorders.  Willis was so bad last year that he played with three teams (Arizona, Detroit, Fresno) and compiled a 5.62 ERA and even worse 1.95 WHIP with a disgusting 56 walks in 55.2 innings pitched.  To make you even more ill, Willis earned $12 million last year; well, at least he “made” $12 million.

For 2011, Willis is hoping to restart his career as a reliever with the Cincinnati Reds. When asked about being a comeback player, Willis said:  “I never left.  I was just terrible.”  At least he knows it.

As for Willis’ prospects with the Reds this season, it will definitely be in the bullpen if he earns an opening day roster spot.  “I don’t have a role for him yet,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s got to make the team first.”

At age 29, the guy with the high leg kick and the engaging smile who finished second in the Cy Young voting at age 23, just might be at the end of his career.

Dontrelle Willis Fantasy Baseball Projection 2011:  Willis pitched a 35 pitch shaky inning in his first outing for the Reds.  He’s on a minor league contract at this point so Cincinnati is proceeding cautiously.  We see him as a long shot to make the Reds roster, but it all just doesn’t make sense given that the guy is only 29-years-old so he should have something left in the tank.  At best, he might make the team as a long reliever and we all know the value of a long reliever in fantasy baseball.  We can’t recommend drafting Willis in any league format for 2011. But, if you do take the chance and he does well, what a story you’ll have!

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