Mar 16, 2012, 10:47 AM EDT
Willis signed a one-year, $850,000 deal in December and was expected to serve as a situational southpaw out of the bullpen after shutting down lefty bats in 2011, but he’d never filled that role before and unfortunately the switch to relief didn’t work miracles on the 30-year-old who hasn’t been healthy and effective in the same season since 2006.
He was checked out for a sore arm and fatigue recently, but the Phillies decided Willis isn’t worth the trouble at this point. Last season Willis had a 5.00 ERA and 57/37 K/BB ratio in 76 innings for the Reds and combined during the past five seasons he has a 5.65 ERA in 404 innings, albeit all as a starter.
Willis has always been a good-hitting pitcher and, as sad as this sounds, he might want to give hitting a try full time. His odds of returning to the majors and finding success again as a pitcher are slim and dwindling. If he keeps pitching, expect Willis to settle for a minor-league deal somewhere.
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