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Notes: Willis is uncharacteristically wild

Lefty ace can't explain why he leads the Majors in hit batsmen

 

MIAMI -- In his comparatively young career, Dontrelle Willis has compiled a number of impressive statistics. The D-Train is the Marlins' all-time victories leader with 51, and a year ago, he paced the Major Leagues with 22 wins.

 

Currently, Willis finds himself topping the Majors in an infamous category: hit batsmen.

 

In Friday's 5-2 win over the Red Sox, Willis plunked Kevin Youklis with a pitch in the fourth inning. It marked his 13th hit batter of the season. The Rangers' Vicente Padilla is second with 11.

 

Hitting batters has never been an issue for Willis. A year ago, in 236 1/3 innings, he hit eight. Now, he's struck 13 in 116 innings.

 

"I know a bunch of them early were more like sliders that bounced off guy's feet," Willis said. "I don't know. I've been trying to come in hard, and a couple of times, I'm missing on them."

 

Willis doesn't have a specific reason for being wild.

 

"I really don't know," he said. "I have to look at the tape, maybe there is something I'm doing mechanically when I'm trying to come in. That's the chance you take when you're throwing a 'back-leg' slider, you might hit him in the back leg.

 

"When you're trying to come in, you have a chance [to hit someone]. I come in a lot. I didn't know I led the league in hit batsman."

 

One theory, according to a scout, is Willis didn't effectively throw inside early in the season. So, the scout feels Willis may be overcompensating, and at times, pitches get away.

 

Clearly mindful about not wanting to intentionally hit batters, Willis says he tends to pound inside. In general, pitchers have to command the inside part of the plate. A number of the batters Willis has hit have been when he's ahead in the count.

 

"I think I pitch in more than some other people do, as far as getting balls in on the inner half," Willis said. "I'll try to cut down in the second half, because you're putting a guy on."

MLB.com

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