Update 4:30 pm: Jason Beck reports Max Scherzer got the call from the Tigers, and will get the start on Sunday. A roster move has not yet been announced, but is expected after tonight's game. As Armando Galarraga was the originally scheduled starter, still has an option left and isn't owed a metric ton of cash...well, you do the math.
Demoted starting pitcher Max Scherzer is outright tearing it up in Toledo. His stat line shows he's eating the International League alive:
2 G, 15 IP, 1 W, 4 H, 1 ER, 17 K, 2 BB, 0.60 ERA, .083 BAA. .40 WHIP
It's no longer a question of "if" Scherzer will return to the Tigers, it's only a matter of "when." He's ready to face major league hitting. So the speculation as to when Scherzer will be called back up to the big club is just beginning.
Let me remind you what BYB's head honcho had to say about who should be removed from the rotation after Friday night's loss to the A's:
The other issue is Dontrelle Willis. He pitched more or less like he always does. Too many runners get on base. Some of them score. He still nearly comes away from the game with a quality start and gets a free pass from those who want to give him one.
But he gave up nine hits and four walks in 5-1/3 innings. That is not good.
This month he's allowed 17 walks and 23 hits in 19.1 innings. That is not good.
Clearly, when the Tigers decide to get Max Scherzer back in the rotation -- that can't come soon enough -- Willis must be removed from it.
The News' Lynn Henning, everyone's favorite Tigers columnist, drives Kurt's point home:
It depends, obviously, on what shakes out between Dontrelle Willis and Armando Galarraga. Willis will get every benefit of the doubt, especially when Galarraga has his 2010 minor-league option remaining. That's the easy call.
Willis simply has to show that he can keep the Tigers in a game. With his strike-zone problems far from overcome, it's an ongoing issue. But Willis is the team's resident left-hander, has a big contract through this year, and will be given every chance to stick.
It's obvious the prevailing wisdom is Willis should be removed from the rotation, pronto.
Yanking the D-Train before he can do any more damage to the Tigers' playoff chances is the logical thing to do. But when was the last time the Tigers did something logical when it comes to monster contracts? Just look back to the Tigers paying the Marlins $9.6 million to take Nate Robertson off their hands. I'm still scratching my head over the move.
Check out the stat line on Robertson's last start. Willis has Nate looking like the next coming of Cy Young...or at least Milt Wilcox.
I'm not saying Robertson would have been exactly what the Tigers rotation needs, but he's not near the game to game question mark Willis has become. Hindsight being 20/20, giving up on Robertson, and paying the Marlins absolutely stupid money to do so, looks more and more asinine by the day. (Not to say we told you so....BUT WE TOLD YOU SO!)
As the Robertson train has left the station, and the Scherzer train is waiting to enter, what should the Tigers do with the D-Train?
Keeping a walk-happy, big inning waiting to happen, über-expensive failed starter/middle relief pitcher/mop up man on the 25 man roster makes no sense. As no general manager in their right mind would trade even a bag of used stirrups for Willis (and his contract), it means he has to be released.
But Mike Ilitch would have to eat the remainder of what's left of the $12 million still owed to Willis. It's an immense amount of money, enough to make the Tigers' owner gag at the thought. The idea of an 80 year old owner choking to death on $100 bills isn't exactly pleasant...which is why Willis being removed from the rotation may not in the cards.
Despite the pressure Willis places on the bullpen, regardless of the L appearing after in the standings after another iffy performance, there are $12 million reasons why the Tigers will continue to run the E ticket ride known as Dontrelle Willis out to the mound every 5th day. And will till the bitter end.
Which is how I see this marriage of pitcher and team ending. Bitterly....along with a check with lots of zeros changing hands.
What will happen when Scherzer gets to call to head for I-75 North? Willis should be the odd man out. But he won't be. Galarraga will...and it'll be the wrong decision. (I checked my Magic 8 Ball for conformation. The answer? "Signs point to yes.")
If the Tigers end up in the same situation as last September, struggling to make the playoffs, wishing they had more of a cushion (or any cushion at all) because of games Willis struggled, they'll have only themselves to blame.