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Daily Dodger in review: Is the storm now over for Chad Billingsley?

CHAD BILLINGSLEY, 26, starting pitcher

Final 2010 stats: 12-11, 3.57, 171 strikeouts, 69 walks, 1.28 WHIP in 191 2/3 innings.

Contract status: Arbitration eligible; made $3.85 million in 2010.

The good: After his first disastrous start of the second half (seven earned runs in four innings at St. Louis), finished as one of the National League’s best pitchers. Went only 5-6, but with a 2.45 ERA. Held batters to a .219 batting average in his last 15 starts. Lowered home runs allowed from 17 in 2009 to eight last season. And he went 2-1 with an 0.74 ERA in five starts against the Giants.

The bad: In his first 17 starts, he owned a 4.61 ERA. Immediately came the cry he just wasn’t mentally tough enough. Early on, seemed to struggle with the type of pitcher he wanted to be. Hit a career-high 10 batters -- wait! -- that’s supposed to be good news.

What’s next: Secure member of the rotation. His growing pains may well be behind him. Finished the season like someone who is ready to take the next step.

The take: Some people are never going to be convinced the mild-mannered Billingsley is tough enough until he dominates in the postseason. Maybe he needs to grow a beard or chew some nails. He seemed to mature as the season wore on and looked plenty tough enough mentally. He was close to dominating.

After he went 16-10 with a 3.14 ERA in 2008, people clamored he was a coming ace. After his falloff the next season (12-11, 4.03 ERA), they practically clamored for his head.

Right now, he looks like a solid No.2. And he’s still only 26.

-- Steve Dilbeck

 
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Like many fans, I was heavily on Billingsley's case this season. I even called him a wuss. My main problem with him was his inability to pitch out of jams. If he put one or two guys on base, you could see from his facial expressions and body language that he dreaded being out there. He would eventually give up a big hit, and out he'd go. In addition, his pitch count (a stat which I detest) was so high, he was unable to even complete the 5th or 6th inning, putting a huge burden on an already pretty shaky bullpen. I think he was laboring under the premature dubbing of him as the Dodgers "ace" when he had yet to put together two decent seasons in a row. He certainly proved that he wasn't ready for that mantle.
He was a different pitcher in the second half, however. His stats were very good, except for a W-L record that could be directly attributed to the Dodgers inability to score runs for him (or anybody else, for that matter). So, I'm going to be pulling for him next season. With the rotation most likely starting off with Lilly and Kershaw, I think he'll be more comfortable as a number three guy
and will improve even more. I think the toughness issue is a thing of the past. Now he just has to keep learning how to pitch. I look forward to a better season from him, depending, of course, on our offense.

I actually think Billz turned a corner last year, whether he sacked-up, "got it", or whatever you want to call it. Whereas you always waited for the implosion the first part of the year, the second half was totally opposite. If he continues to pitch the way he did at the end, it at least gives us a solid 1-2.

Not convinced. Maybe a #3 or #4 guy for the rest of his career. I see no mental toughness.

All these that are critical of his "mental toughness" are never going to be satisfied with him in my opinion.

I see him as a solid, though potentially spectacular, #2 to Kershaw for years to come. His growth this year was very apparent to me. At 26, his best years are still ahead of him and I, for one, look forward to all of them.

On another subject, I'm glad that Lilly was signed. the length is OK and the terms are acceptable. Good job, Ned. Now go get Carl Crawford!!! LOL

Is the storm over?

"Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm."

Billingsley wasn't tested in a pennant race or under playoff conditions, in 2010.

No storms for Chad in 2011, because the Dodgers, probably, won't contend, and therefore there will be no pressure for Billingsley to collapse under. His 2010 "improvement" coincided with the team swirling down the drain. He just doesn't seem to get it: you match his remarks with Kershaw's, and it's clear that the latter is so much more mature. Maybe Torre & Co. chewing on Chad's rear when he gave his limp, befuddled excuses for his poor performances last year had an effect, but I imagine there will need to be more rear-chewing in the future. Kershaw picked up from Padilla right away the art of hitting people when it counts; maybe if the Dodgers bring Padilla back for another season, Billingsley will pick it up, too. Maybe. I hope the guy improves, but right now he's not a consistently dependable #2, though that is what this team, barring a miracle signing, will depend on him next year to be.

Bills will need some offense supporting him if he'll ever get a chance to prove he's tough enough in the postseason.

Really mental toughness issues are you kidding me. The guy was hampered with multiple issues last year. Does anyone even take that into account? First of all the guy broke his leg right before spring training. Secondly the guys was pitching through hamstring issues until the Dodgers decided to shut him down. But i mean I guess that is not mental toughness. In 2008 he showed that he could be a legitimate top the rotation starter. I mean I guess he wasnt tough enough to dominate in his real first playoff start against the Cubs. Lets be honest here he ran into a buzz saw that year which were the Phillies. But then again I guess being in the top ten in ERA from 2007-2010 for pitchers under 25 and having a better winning % than Matt Cain isnt good enough. Let me contend this out of four appearances in the playoffs he has two bad appearances and two good one. Pleas dont give me this about mental toughness . That being said he isnt an ace he is a solid #1-2. One bad year doesnt define a career

Well, it may be a while until he attempts to prove himself in the postseason because I don't see the Dodgers making it to the playoffs anytime soon...not until the organization (whoever is in charge) makes the necessary improvements, such as another good starting pitcher or two, a left fielder (Crawford would be nice, but we all know that'll never happen), a third baseman (2011 will be Blake's final season) and a shortstop (Furcal is almost done too).

Right, Ned will sign Carl Crawford's uncoordinated look-alike, maybe. Stop it.

Lilly signed because it's LA. Before he could test the market and the Dodgers could get out-bid for him. Imagine McCourt outbidding teams from the AL East for Crawford, for Gaia's sake. I mean, they've got real MONEY out east.

As for Bills, how many young guys need a few years to put it together?

He's ahead of the curve there. Dump on him all you want, Giants fans. I believe he will be a star long after God proves its existence and the McCourts are forgotten.


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