For the second time already this season, Tigers starter Dontrelle Willis will be scratched from a scheduled start due to an illness. As was the case last month when the Tigers played at Texas, lefty Brad Thomas will make the start in his stead.
The Tigers are set to open a three game home set with the New York Yankees tonight, a game to be broadcast on ESPN as well as FSN-Detroit. This had a chance to be a national return to prominence for Willis, who has spent the better part of two years battling control problems. But Willis has been the Tigers most consistent starter this season and could have shown the world he was back with a strong effort tonight.
Now the world will get only to see the soft underbelly of the Tigers pitching staff, Thomas, who pitched poorly to start the year but has been better in recent efforts.
Regardless of how well Thomas is able to pitch tonight, he likely won’t make it through the fifth inning, simply due to the fact that he is not a true starter and hasn’t been stretched out enough to throw those kinds of innings. Look for Eddie Bonine to piggy-back the start and work a couple innings himself tonight.
Interesting stat of the day: The Daily Fungo’s Mike McClary unearthed this gem; in 2001, Ichiro Suzuki won the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP awards with a stellar season. That year he racked up 48 base hits in his first 30 games. So far this season, Tigers rookie Austin Jackson has 49 hits in his first 30 games. So that’s fun.