Dontrelle Willis looks so-so even against Royals

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Last week when Dontrelle Willis held the Royals to two runs over six innings in his first start of the season I warned against reading too much into one decent outing against a poor lineup and unfortunately it didn’t take long to see why.
Facing the Royals a second time Tuesday afternoon, Willis narrowly escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first inning only to allow four runs in the next four frames.
The good news is that Willis has yet to implode by completely losing the strike zone like he did so often during the past two seasons. The bad news is that he’s allowed a poor Royals lineup stacked with left-handed hitters to bat .348 against him, managing just seven strikeouts compared to five walks in 11 innings.
He’s made huge strides relative to 2008/2009, but the matchups will get tougher and he just doesn’t look very good so far. And remember, Willis was last healthy and good way back in 2006.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.