CHAD BILLINGSLEY, 27, starting pitcher
Final 2011 stats: 11-11, 4.21 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 152 strikeouts and 84 walks in 188 innings.
Contract status: Signed through the next two seasons.
The good: Billingsley had his moments. Of course, he always has moments. He struck out 11 and threw eight scoreless innings against the world champion Cardinals in April. He retired 21 of his last 22 Nationals in July.
The bad: His ERA was a career high and it was the first time he did not finish with a winning record. His strikeouts declined as the season worn on; his strikeouts-to-walks ratio was 2.56 in May but fell to 1.07 in September.
What’s next: Two more years, but of what? He’s a rotation stable on a staff needing two more starters, so he’s not going anywhere.
The take: What to make of Billingsley? He is the team’s most frustrating pitcher because everyone, Billingsley included, agrees there is more there. The frustration stems from recognizing the talent and expecting greater results. Sort of a mini-Matt Kemp, circa 2010.
His career, however, is not headed upward and actually is slipping in the wrong direction. Even manager Don Mattingly, who is very careful about criticizing players, spoke unusually plainly about Billingsley at the season’s end, telling The Times’ Dylan Hernandez that the right-hander had flat-lined.
Billingsley blamed it on mechanics, which sounds too much like the standard pitching excuse and not enough about a burning drive to succeed. His mild-mannered nature has always led to questions about his competitiveness, but I think he wants to win just as badly as the next guy — he just shows it differently.
He clearly, however, needs to take it to another level. He doesn’t have to be No. 1 starter material, just higher than he is now. And right now, he looks too much like a .500 pitcher. There is more there.
— Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Chad Billingsley delivers a pitch against the Washington Nationals in July during a 3-1 victory at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times