The Dodgers' position in the standings hasn't changed Chad Billingsley's mind about how special his team could be — and he wants to be a part of it next season.
"I really don't want to miss next year," Billingsley said.
Billingsley hasn't pitched since Aug. 24 because of a partially torn ligament in his throwing elbow. He has started a throwing program that will help him decide whether to undergo reconstructive surgery this winter.
If Billingsley has an operation, he will miss the entire 2013 season.
"I'm not really throwing too hard but I'm feeling good, so that's always a plus," he said. "It's still hard to tell because I haven't tested it."
Billingsley is scheduled to intensify his throwing program Friday. The decision on whether to have surgery probably won't be made until mid-November, trainer Sue Falsone said.
Billingsley talked about the difficulties of sitting and watching while his team is in playoff contention. What has made this time particularly difficult for Billingsley is that he felt he had made significant progress in his development this year.
Billingsley averaged 2.7 walks per nine innings in 25 starts, meeting his goal of reducing his walk total. He averaged 4.0 walks per nine innings in 2011.
Early in the season, he paid for his aggression. Though July 7, he was 4-9 with a 4.30 earned-run average.
But Billingsley said he wasn't discouraged.
"You just can't give up on something just because you're not seeing the results," he said. "As far as how I looked at it, I was getting weak-hit balls. That's good. I wasn't giving up line drives everywhere."
Over his next six starts, everything appeared to come together, as he was 6-0 with a 1.30 earned-run average.
But in the fourth inning of his start on Aug. 24, he felt something pop in his elbow. His season was over.
How Billingsley's elbow responds to treatment over the next several weeks could have a significant impact on the Dodgers next season.
Without him, the Dodgers wouldn't have a clear-cut No. 2 starter behind Clayton Kershaw, himself a potential surgical patient.
This is the first major arm injury of Billingsley's career. He acknowledged that he's still in denial about the possibility that he could miss next season.
"I'm really not thinking about it right now," he said. "My focus is on getting healthy. If it comes to that, I'll deal with it then."
Gonzalez on a roll
Adrian Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to 13 games Monday with an up-the-middle single off San Francisco Giants ace Matt Cain.
The hitting streak is the longest by a Dodger this season. The previous best was a 12-game streak by Luis Cruz from July 17-29.
Mattingly weighs in
Manager Don Mattingly said he hasn't given much thought to the competition for the National League most-valuable-player award.
But asked about the American League award, Mattingly had a clear choice in mind, saying he would take the Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera over the Angels' Mike Trout.
"I look at Cabrera as the best hitter in the game," Mattingly said.