For much of the year, hopes have been pretty high that Dontrelle Willis was a legitimate Cy Young candidate. He started out on an unbelievable run, but has since tailed off (quite significantly) as he did in his first two seasons.
Possibly more important than that, Chris Carpenter hasn't slowed down at all and is emerging as the clear favorite for this year's Cy Young Award. Last night's game, which featured Dontrelle for the Fish and Carpenter for the Cards made this pretty evident.
Carpenter was great last night, and Willis simply wasn't. Dontrelle needed 103 pitches to work through 5 innings (during which he gave up three walks). His teammates didn't help him out too much, as their defense was uncharacteristically poor last night (of the three runs he allowed, only one was earned), but overall, it was not an impressive outing.
After his dominating start against the Pirates last week, there seemed to be a little more hope surrounding the D-Train. That was needed as (at least in the first half) Dontrelle was usually the catalyst to break the Fish out of a mini-losing streak. But just before and just after the All-Star break, Dontrelle started to falter. ERA isn't my favorite statistic, but this sums it up pretty well:
April - 1.29
May - 2.06
June - 2.62
July - 7.14
It's not a pretty trend. On another discouraging note, Dontrelle allowed a batting average against of .301 in June (which is somehow masked by his sparkling ERA).
I sure hope this is a blip on the page and not an indication that Dontrelle is a first half pitcher. If for the rest of the year Willis is going to look like the pitcher we saw against the Cubs and Giants (and even in the All-Star game), I think it's fair to kiss the playoff hopes goodbye. He may not need to be as dominating as he was last week against the Pirates, but he'll likely need to nearly be in that form in order for the Fish to make a push for October.