Chad Billingsley has been one of the mainstays of the Dodgers rotation over the past five years.
At times, Billingsley can be dominant, looking like one of the best pitchers in the league. Other times, Billingsley has struggled with his pitch count while nibbling at the strike zone, despite his terrific stuff.
The Dodgers’ front office showed their faith in Billingsley by rewarding him with a 3-year/$35 million contract extension prior to the 2011 season. Billingsley would go on to have his worst season as a starter.
Chad got off to a solid start to begin 2012, going 2-1 with a 2.64 ERA in 5 starts in April.
However, things would go downhill in May as Chad went 0-3 with a 5.52 ERA. Opponents were hitting a shocking .328 off of Chad in the second month of the season.
After beginning to turn the corner in June, Billingsley’s season hit another speed bump, Chad was sidelined for two weeks in July with a sore elbow, never a good sign for a pitcher.
But then Chad would return with a vengeance, winning six straight starts and giving up only 6 earned runs in 41.2 innings of work (1.30 ERA).
However, Chad’s next and final start would be cut short because of that same elbow that had been bothering him, forcing the Dodgers to shut him down for the season.
Billingsley has been resting his arm and the Dodgers are awaiting a decision on whether or not he will need Tommy John Surgery, which would cause Chad to miss the 2013 season.
The Numbers: 10-9, 3.55 ERA, 128:45 K:BB, 149.2 innings, 1.29 WHIP, 25 games started
Although Billingsley’s season was cut short, he was well on his way to some of the best numbers of his career.
Billingsley certainly would have surpassed his 11 wins in 2011 and quite possibly his 12 wins from 2009 and 2010. Chad’s 3.55 ERA was his best since 2008 and his 1.29 WHIP was his best since 2010 and his second best mark ever in his career.
Additionally, Chad’s 2.80 K:BB ratio was also his best mark of his career.
Armed with a new offense and Billingsley at the top of the rotation with Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers looked poised to make a postseason run, but that would not be the case. Although it was the Dodgers bats that were a disappointment down the stretch, there’s no doubt the Dodgers missed Billingsley’s presence on the mound.
April 6 vs. Padres – Chad opened the season strong tossing 8.1 shutout innings in his first start of the season. Chad also had a season-high 11 strikeouts and only one walk. It was Billingsley’s longest start since throwing a complete game against San Francisco in July of 2010. The Dodgers would go on to win the game 6-0.
April 28 vs. Nationals – Chad had another strong outing to start the season, holding the Nationals to one run in seven innings of work, striking out six and walking two en route to a 4-3 Dodgers win over the team they were battling for National League supremacy early in the season.
June 10 vs. Mariners – Chad had the best performance since his first start of the year, holding the Mariners to only two hits and one run over seven innings, striking out eight and walking three. Andre Ethier’s grand slam slated Chad to an early lead and paced the Dodgers to an 8-2 victory in the Pacific Northwest. After going nine straight starts without a win, Chad had won his second straight.
July 28 vs. Giants – In his second start back after missing time with elbow soreness, Chad shut down the Giants at AT&T Park, scattering four hits over 7.1 innings of work, striking out two with no walks. The Dodgers would smash the Giants 10-0 en route to a pivotal weekend sweep of their NL West rivals.
Aug. 19 vs. Braves – In another key series against a wild-card team, Chad shut down the Braves in Atlanta for another seven shutout innings, striking out four and walking two. Mark Ellis powered the Dodgers offense and gave Chad a 5-0 victory. This would be Chad’s 10th and final win of the year. He would leave his next start with elbow pain.
Billingsley made $9 million last year in the first of his three-year extension. The Dodgers are still waiting on a decision on whether or not Billingsley will have to undergo elbow surgery that will cost him the 2013 season.
Regardless, of whether or not he plays, Chad will make $11 million next year. Chad is signed through 2014 and the Dodgers have an option for 2015.
Over the second half-of-the season Billingsley re-established himself as one of the top right handed starters in the league and was the Dodgers clear No. 2 behind Kershaw.
If Billingsley is healthy next year, the Dodgers will have a formidable rotation to go along with their high-powered offense. If Billingsley misses next season, the Dodgers have options, but none are as good or as young as Billingsley. Chad is 28 years old. Billingsley keeps a low profile during the offseason but he does host the Dodgers Dream Foundation’s annual charity golf tournament.