This is non-Cub related, but since he’s a former Cub farmhand, I thought it might interest you.
Most people know how bad Dontrelle Willis was last year and I found something I thought was interesting. It’s not groundbreaking stuff, but it made me say, hmmm.
In 2006, Willis used his fastball 63% of the time and finished with an ERA of 3.87. Last year, that fastball usage increased to 78% of the time and the velocity on it declined from 90.5 mph to 89.3 mph. Not only did he use it more often, but it was slower as well.
Why the sudden change in fastball usage? Throw in a case of wildness and Dontrelle was forced into more fastball counts in his starts. In 2006 he averaged a shade over 16 pitches per inning. In 2007, that number increased to 17. While it may not sound like much, it magnifies over the course of the season.
If Willis is going to be successful again, he has to regain his command and decrease the wildness.