MLB

Billingsley continues downward spiral

Share This Story

Jon Paul Morosi

Jon Paul Morosi is a National MLB Writer for FOXSports.com. He previously covered baseball for the Detroit Free Press and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He began his journalism career at the Bay City Times in his native Michigan. Follow him on Twitter.

MORE>>
 
   
 

CINCINNATI

The Dodgers aren’t yet at a crisis point in their season. But Chad Billingsley has arrived at a critical moment in his career.

The pitching rubber can be a lonely place. And right now, the former All-Star looks lost.

Sometime during Billingsley’s latest woeful performance, the postseason hopes of the 2010 Dodgers ceased to be the primary concern. This is now a salvage effort for a not-long-ago stud pitcher, someone who stepped onto the mound in St. Louis after President Obama (and Tim Lincecum) at last year’s Midsummer Classic.

Billingsley lasted only three innings in Tuesday’s 11-9 loss to the Reds. And this was the damage: seven hits, seven runs, four earned.

The three unearned runs came courtesy of a throwing error by — you guessed it — the Los Angeles starting pitcher.

A late rally by the Dodgers enabled Billingsley to spit the hook, before the Reds beat the bullpen. But let’s not fixate on the result of one game. The far more important statistic is 7.07.

That would be the right-hander’s ERA.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre has seen pretty much everything in 45 years of professional baseball. But even he can’t be too sure about what to do with Billingsley now.

Torre did say that the 25-year-old will make his next start. Beyond that? Your guess is as good as mine, his or anyone else’s.

Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said Billingsley “is not the first pitcher to go through a couple bad outings, and he won’t be the last.” But it’s more than Billingsley being 4-7 with a 5.51 ERA since last year’s All-Star Game.

His struggles would not be so confounding if he had articulated a clear plan for improvement during his remarks after Tuesday’s game. But he didn’t.

If anything, his comments reinforced how distant he is from the pitcher he was not long ago.

Torre said his starter “threw a lot of balls in the middle of the plate.” But Billingsley disagreed, saying he didn’t believe pitch location was a problem.

Hmm. I’m going to side with the manager on this one.

The two did speak on Wednesday — and Torre was aware of Billingsley’s postgame explanation. “I know he’s made some comments, about he thought he made good pitches,” Torre said. “You don’t get hit like that if you make good pitches. In fact, if you do get hit like that, then we have a problem.”

Billingsley maintained Tuesday night that his confidence is “not an issue.” His arm, his delivery, his mechanics — all fine, the pitcher said.

He has the “same stuff” that made him an All-Star less than 12 months ago.
Billingsley maintained that his confidence is “not an issue.” His arm, his delivery, his mechanics — all fine, he said.

“Everything felt good today,” he insisted. “They hit some good pitches. I wasn’t walking guys. ... As far as everything I wanted to work on, I felt like I accomplished it.”
Baseball Hot Streak

He also said this:

“I was throwing quality pitches.”

Really?

I don’t think that’s how his manager saw it.

“Wasn’t very good,” Torre said. “You saw the results. … It looked like everything he was trying to do, the ball wound up in the middle of the plate.

“He has too good of stuff to get cuffed around like he was tonight.”

I felt badly for Billingsley. He was pitching a little more than three hours away from his hometown of Defiance, Ohio, where he was a revered high school pitching star. I’m not sure if that added to the sting of the outing, but it probably didn’t help.

Billingsley, who is soft-spoken even on his most outgoing days, did a lot of shrugging during his postgame interview.

He offered answers, but they weren’t Answers. The Dodgers have to hope he finds them soon.

“Chad is a great pitcher – an All-Star pitcher,” said center fielder Matt Kemp, who is off to a sensational start. “He pitched good last year. I have faith in him. We all believe in him. We know he’s going to get the job done. He’s going to bounce back. He’s going to be all right.”

The alternative would be devastating to the Dodgers. The options at Triple-A – Josh Lindblom, Scott Elbert and James McDonald – aren’t very appealing now. Lindblom and Elbert are off to slow starts. McDonald had a terrible spring after the team gave him a chance to make the big-league rotation.

If the Dodgers can’t fix Billingsley, the ramifications will be felt for years to come. This is a former first-round pick who had 16 victories – and a postseason win over the Cubs – in 2008. He was 24 at the time. By now, he was supposed to be an ace on the order of Chris Carpenter or Dan Haren.

But the opposite is happening.

When I asked Honeycutt to describe the main difference between the Billingsley of last April, May and June and the Billingsley of today, he paused for a few moments before answering.

“Things may go (badly) for a little while – an inning, or a couple batters – but he’s always the type that would battle through somehow,” he said. “That’s what I want to see.”

Whether that happens will tell us a lot about how good the Dodgers will be this year ... and next year ... and the year after that ... and the year after that ...
Tagged: Dodgers, Giants, Chad Billingsley

More Stories From Jon Paul Morosi

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



MLB Videos

Bautista talks Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Jose Bautista discusses Derek Jeter's career and his final appearance in the MLB...

Jeter honored to play in last All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Derek Jeter compares his first All-Star Game experience with his last, Mike Trou...

Matheny defends Wainwright: He's out there to compete Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Mike Matheny comments on the media's reaction to Adam Wainwright's joke about le...

SimLeague Baseball - Simulation Baseball Game

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..