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Waiting for Chad Billingsley, superstar, after all these years

May 16, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley still looks like a work in progress in his seventh major-league season.
Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley still looks like a work in progress in… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)

This is an old story, just dusted off every season and presented anew.

Chad Billingsley is working on this or that -- working on his mechanics, working on his approach, on being more aggressive, on being more consistent.

This is Billingsley’s seventh major-league season and he somehow remains a work in progress, his perceived potential somehow still out of reach.

That’s not that he’s completely horrible, just that he’s completely mediocre. In the last four seasons, he is a combined 37-36 with a 3.98 earned-run average and a 1.35 WHIP.

It was hoped he could be the Dodgers’ No. 2 starter, but instead he keeps looking like a nice No. 5.

Tuesday night, the Dodgers on a nice five-game winning streak, Billingsley takes the mound and is typically OK. Perhaps I’m being a tad generous. He went four-plus innings and allowed four runs and eight hits.

Sure, there was a strikeout that got past catcher A.J. Ellis for a wild pitch that led to a run. There were hits just past a diving Justin Sellers and Dee Gordon.

But they were hits that were part of a five consecutive hit barrage that chased him from the game.

"I thought Chad was OK," said Manager Don Mattingly. "I thought the pitches were better tonight, the ball was coming out better tonight. Honestly, I thought Chad was a little unlucky."

In his last two starts, Billingsley went eight total innings and threw 162 pitches. In his last three combined starts, he’s gone 14 innings and thrown 269 pitches.

"He’s unlucky all right," said one Dodgers follower, "he has umpires who can call balls and strikes."

Of course, in Billingsley’s first three games of the season he was a different pitcher. He owned a 1.33 ERA and had 17 strikeouts to one walk.

But that’s the thing about Billingsley: He can look so good for awhile and get you thinking he’s finally got it figured out, and then he slips back and puts together three very different games.

"Obviously we don’t like the result, but I’m encouraged the way the ball came out tonight," Mattingly said. "He’s been working hard, kind of trying to get back where he started the season, get the delivery where he needs it to be, just being more consistent with it.”

A tired, old story.

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Waiting for Chad Billingsley, superstar, after all these years

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