Willis Back to the DL; Figaro to Start Saturday

Dontrelle Willis is headed back to the disabled list for anxiety disorder.  To take his place on the roster (and starting rotation), the Detroit Tigers will call up Alfredo Figaro from Double-A Erie.  He'll get the start on Saturday against the Brewers, which the Tigers had already decided Willis would not be doing.

In 11 starts for the Seawolves this year, the 24-year-old Figaro has a 5-2 record and 4.10 ERA, with 59 strikeouts and 17 walks in 68 innings.  Here's the scouting report on him from TigsTown.com:

Hard throwing right-hander can touch mid-90s, while above-average curveball, along with mediocre slider and change-up.

For those hoping that the Tigers would relieve themselves of Willis's struggles and his remaining contract, maybe this move will seem a bit disappointing.  But it's definitely consistent with how the team has handled the D-Train this year.  This is obviously more than a baseball matter with Willis, and putting him on the DL allows the two sides to continue to work on his issues.  (And, to be frank, it also probably helps the Tigers get some return on the $22 million he'll be paid through 2010.)

As Kurt just pointed out to me in conversation, this isn't a spot-start situation for Figaro.  If he doesn't pitch well on Saturday, he'll stay in the rotation.  The fifth spot is his.  Until either Willis is somehow ready to return (which just seems hard to imagine) or someone else is found.  Figaro is one of the organization's best starting pitching prospects, however, and the team is obviously in need.  So if he has a future with the Tigers, this is an ideal time to find that out.

Thanks to densogirl, explosivo2k2, and BennieBladesFan for posting the breaking news elsewhere throughout the site.  (EDIT: Motown'sFinest posted an item, as well.)

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