The Tigers announced today that they have optioned Dontrelle Willis to Lakeland so that he can work out his control issues in minor league games. As a five year veteran, Willis had to agree to the minor league assignment and he did so willingly. It became apparent last night, when he walked five and gave up eight runs in an inning and a third, that Willis does not have the control to pitch at the Major League level at this time.
Jim Leyland says that the most likely candidate to replace him in the rotation is Eddie Bonine, a 27 year old right-handed pitcher with an interesting repertoire. According to Tigstown.com (premium content), he uses a hard knuckleball to set up his 88-91 MPH fastball and also has a curve and change-up. he was acquired from the Padres in the minor league portion of the 2005 Rule 5 draft.
Bonine posted a 4.01 ERA and 45/13 k/BB ratio in 67 1/3 innings for Erie and Toledo this year. In 2007, he pitched 154 2/3 innings for Erie, had an ERA of 3.90 and led all Eastern league starters with just 1.34 BB per nine innings. If nothing else, his great control with be refreshing on a staff that has been plagued by walks all year.