Chad Billingsley (0-0) vs. Corey Luebke (0-0)
A.J. Ellis C
Yesterday we saw some good and some bad during the Opening Day game. I’m sure there was nerves aplenty amongst the players and especially from those which were playing in an Opening Day game for the first time in their careers. Dee Gordon and Kenley Jansen seemed to be battling those butterflies. Gordon looked sharp defensively and even made a spectacular play from the hole, but he had a bad day at the plate striking out three times in five at bats. Andre Ethier also struck out twice while walking once. Juan Rivera continued where he left off this Spring, and he went 2 for 4 with 2 hits and a run last night. Matt Kemp made us all forget the strikeout worries we had during Spring Training by going 2 for 5 with a two-run homerun and three RBI on the night. The bullpen had to step up when a sick Clayton Kershaw only made it through three innings. Josh Lindblom and Javy Guerra looked good while Mike MacDougal and Kenley Jansen were shaky in their first relief appearances of the season. The Padres put up a good fight, but we had MAGIC on our side last night.
Chad Billingsley had a rough Spring Training going 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA in 21.1 innings pitched. He allowed 33 hits including 4 homeruns, 14 runs, 8 walks, and 16 strikeouts. His inconsistencies have been worrisome, and he hasn’t been able to put together two good season halves since 2008 when he won 16 games. The last three seasons he has had almost identical records of 12-11, 12-11, and 11-11. The Dodgers have always had high expectations for the naturally talented and athletic right-hander, and this season we really need him to step up to be that true #2 starter behind Clayton Kershaw. He worked with the coaching staff on some of his mechanics this Spring. After his last shaky start in Arizona, he mentioned the possibility of not using his cutter. He was having difficulty controlling the location of the cutter against right-handed batters.
“I can attack with my fastball, the curve is my out pitch and the changeup I can throw in any count and have a lot of confidence in that right now,” Billingsley said. “I don’t know if I’ll throw the cutter — the left side it just spins all the time.”
For me it seems like Bills, who has been thought of as a power pitcher, has been trying to use a vast repertoire of pitches instead of finding confidence in his good old fastball.
Tonight in San Diego we will be hoping that Billingsley can go deep into the game since Clayton Kershaw only could last through three innings in game one pitching while sick with the flu. The bullpen stepped up to help secure the victory on Opening Day. The Dodgers used five relief pitchers, but they still have long reliever Jamey Wright, Todd Coffey, and lefty Scott Elbert available.
The Friars will counter with southpaw Corey Luebke. Last season with the Padres, Luebke appeared in 46 games and made 17 starts after moving into the starting rotation for San Diego last June. He finished the season with a 6-10 record and a 3.29 ERA. He struck out 154 batters and only walked 44. During Spring Training, Corey pitched in 20.1 innings, and he was 1-1 with a 5.75 ERA. The 26-year old looks to be an important member of the Padres’ starting rotation this season, and should be slated in the number two spot behind Tim Stauffer who is currently disabled with a sore elbow. The Padres signed Luebke to a contract extension this offseason. He will make at least $12 million through 2015 with club options for 2016 and 2017.
Let’s keep the Ws coming! Go Blue!