Dontrelle Willis made his return to the majors yesterday, starting for the Reds against the Brewers. I like Willis as a person so much that it has pained me to see him struggle these past three years, so I could barely look at the box score last night I was so nervous. But actually: it was OK. Not great, but OK.
Willis got a no-decision when Francisco Cordero blew the save, but did pitch well enough to win. He allowed two runs on four hits. The key to his struggles have been his walks, however, and he did walk four batters in six innings. Struck out four too. I didn’t see him pitch so I can’t say whether he had anything or if, like his last few big league stints, his strikeouts were a function of guys getting to eager too smack his flat stuff, so if anyone watched the game, please chime in with your impressions.
Obviously, though, one game won’t tell us enough about his outing to give us a clear idea of how long he’ll stick or if he’s anywhere close to being the pitcher he once was. I want to be optimistic, even if the walks are troubling. For now, though, he doesn’t have to be spectacular. He need only be better than Edinson Volquez, and that ain’t too tough a trick at the moment.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.