The Dodgers gave Billingsley a 5-0 lead, and he gave it all up in their 8-5… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)
Don Mattingly is right, of course. Chad Billingsley’s overall numbers do look pretty decent when compared to everyone else.
The trouble is, they don’t compare very well to the early Billingsley, and certainly not to the Billingsley most were anticipating would have arrived by now.
When Billingsley first showed up at age 21, a former No. 1 draft pick, he appeared a future front-line starter, if not a potential ace.
In his first three seasons, he went 35-19 with a 3.33 ERA. In his four seasons since, he is 39-39 with a 3.91 ERA. And that’s about as mediocre as it gets.
His story now is all about inconsistency, and admittedly it’s a tired story. He can look brilliant for a couple of games, and confused and lacking an edge the next.
Before Friday’s game, Mattingly was asked about Billingsley’s inconsistency and went into a spirited defense of the right-hander. It almost seemed he was waiting for the question.
“At the end of the day, look at his numbers, really go into the last four seasons, put him up against the whole league,” Mattingly said. “Even though it may not be a 20-game winner or whatever, it’s not that bad. I know I want more, I want him to want more, and I think there’s more there.”
Which is at the root of the problem. Everyone does think there’s more there. Yet, Mattingly said, “I want him to want more,” almost as if the manager feared Billingsley did not, or not enough.
Then, of course, the Dodgers went out and staked Billingsley to a 5-0 lead, and he gave it all up in their eventual 8-5 loss to the Angels. After the Angels tied it on a suicide squeeze, Mike Trout crushed Billingsley’s next pitch over 400 feet to dead center. Trout is a marvelously talented young player but, given Billingsley’s history, it hinted at broken concentration.
All the things that Mattingly had addressed before the game, were made fresh anew.
“That’s why I guess you ask me all those questions every few days,” Mattingly said. “I guess the mystery continues a little bit.”
Billingsley stood and softly responded to all questions afterward, though he could offer precious little insight.
“I felt good out there, but balls were finding holes,” he said. “And that’s just baseball.”
And right now, that’s just Chad Billingsley.
What if Dodgers had hired Mike Scioscia as manager?
Chad Billingsley can't hold lead as Dodgers fall to Angels, 8-5
Dodgers and the trade deadline: Opportunity versus expectations?