Can Chad Billingsley overcome a torn elbow and remain one of the Dodgers main starting pitchers for 2013?

Chad Billingsley Will Be Key Factor in Dodgers 2013 Success

While the Dodgers have been busy stock piling starting pitchers this offseason, now having Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Josh Beckett, Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, and Ryu Hyun-Jin all on the roster. While some of those names are being shopped around as potential trade material, Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley‘s health issues are still a concern going into the 2013 season.


The most determining piece of the rotational puzzle will most certainly be the health of Chad Billingsley. Bills suffered a partially torn right elbow ligament, and he has been working to recover and rehab without succumbing to Tommy John surgery. It is pretty rare for a pitcher with a torn elbow to bounce back without surgical repair, but Billingsley has reportedly responded well to plasma rich injections and may be healthy for next year after all. The 28-year old right-hander has been a Dodger all of his seven Major League seasons after being drafted by Los Angeles in the first round of the 2003 amateur draft. Chad had his best year in L.A. in 2008 when he went 16-10 with a 3.14 ERA. Since then, he has posted very similar numbers in each of his next four years with the Dodgers (12-11, 12-11, 11-11, 10-9). Overall, Billingsley is 80-61 with a career 3.66 ERA in 1,163 1/3 innings.

The reports on Billingsley have all been good this offseason thus far. Earlier this month, Don Mattingly said that Billingsley had resumed his throwing program. He had completed his throwing program three weeks after the 2012 season concluded, and he had begun a new one at the beginning of December. He has been throwing pain free and hitting 94 mph.

Although Billingsley has struggled to piece two successful season halves together since

Chad Billingsley had issues with his cutter last season. Photo: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

2008, he undoubtedly has the talent and pitch repertoire to be a front line starter. Some have argued that Bills has not lived up to expectations since many viewed him as a number two guy behind Clayton Kershaw. Low run support behind Bills in the past few seasons has certainly been somewhat of a nail in his tire. The frustrating part is that we’ve seen him pitch brilliantly at times, and we can see that he has the talent to be the pitcher whom the Dodgers need him to be. He’s been an integral part of this team and one of the core players-which only a few remain. A healthy and successful Chad Billingsley in 2013 could put the Dodgers starting rotation into the stratosphere. With two Cy Young Award winners in the 1-2 spots, and an exciting debut of Korean all-star Ryu Hyun-Jin whose ready to make a name for himself in the MLB, Billingsley’s strides in 2013 could potentially give the Dodgers the best rotation in the league.

All the reports have indicated that both Ted Lilly (who is recovering from season-ending shoulder surgery) and Billingsley will be healthy and ready this Spring. The Dodgers will have to tread lightly since trading both Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano could cause issue if Lilly and or Bills has a setback. Remember, the Dodgers just traded John Ely to Houston, so their starting pitching at the AAA level is lacking. Perhaps Billingsley or Lilly will pitch out of the bullpen if warranted. The Dodgers could very well keep their eight potential starters going into Spring Training.

Billingsley is signed through 2014 with a $14 million team option for 2015 which includes a $3 million buyout.

Do you think Chad Billingsley has what it takes to be a top of the rotation starter? Or do you think Billingsley will inevitably finish with another 12-11 season if healthy? Tell us in the comments.

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Tags: Chad Billingsley Los Angeles Dodgers

  • RallyMonkeyUSA

    He should not be used as a starter til June at least. Give the elbow 9 months..

    • luke jackson

      Smart…he’s young, whats the rush with all the arms in the organization right now?

  • Shane Dyc

    I love Bills and the pitcher he is and I think with the offensive support he will get this year he’ll have a 15-17 win season.If he stays healthy :)

  • Die hard Dodger fan

    We’ve waited and waited for Billingsley to get it right. Why do we continue to fool with this 50-50 pitcher, who is injury prone, outstanding in one inning and looks like he’s never pitched before in the next, and who usually lasts only 3 innings?

    • LasordasLair

      Actually this is the first major injury he’s ever had. He’s normally healthy, save for a couple of groin pulls. What I’ve seen of him, is a lack of consistency throwing strikes. When he pounds the strike zone, and relies on his better pitches, like he did during his little win streak last season, then he gets results. When he tries to nibble on the corners of the plate with his weaker pitches, like his cutter, which runs up his pitch counts, then he gets hit into the next time zone. Time will tell if his elbow will hold up.

    • Joey Caltabellotta

      Holy shit this frustrates me. I can’t count on both hands how many times I’ve read or heard people say “Billingsley sucks, he has no guts blah blah”. Go take a look at his career stats and tell me that he’s lousy. I never recall Billingsley “usually lasting only 3 innings either”. He’s usually clocking in 180+ innings a year so you need to check your facts if you’re actually that hardcore of a Dodgers fan bro.

  • Ivan Ruiz

    Great pitcher overall, but i think they will trade him at the end

  • zack7

    Billingsley is an excellent pitcher and if he’s been occasionally inconsistent, he’s also done well overall through a protracted period when the Dodgers didn’t have very good overall teams. His record and ERA despite that is good. If he pitches the way he did when he was healthy last year, he’ll be as good as ZG. It would be unfortunate were the Dodgers to trade him as I think he’s a talent that will last the next 8-10 years. My opinion, at any rate.

    • Stacie Wheeler

      I agree. If you look at Clayton Kershaw’s record last season (14-9), you can see that a) the 2012 Dodgers did not give their pitchers any run support and b) Win-Loss is often meaningless when rating a pitcher. I’m hoping Bills will be healthy and pitch in perhaps the #4 spot behind Ryu Hyun-Jin at the least.

      • zack7

        I think they have a potentially very powerful pitching rotation if Billingsley is and stays healthy – and I don’t think they should hold off until June -unless he has a set back – he’s been throwing regularly and if all indications there continue positively – then he should be ready at the start – but the one think I think he has to avoid is doing anything that stresses his arm beyond whatever limit he has – that’s how the partial tear probably began – and I agree, at least the 4th spot and probably deservedly the 3rd – They do have an exciting pitching rotation – it would be great if they all did well and it all sent smoothly all season l.. but .. that doesn;t happen all the time.,

        • LasordasLair

          from what Ive heard from the Dodger brass is that he’s way ahead of schedule in his program. I’m assuming the Dodgers will have him on a strict pitch count next year, but not much you can do but try and limit his innings, and throw him out there and hope his elbow holds.

  • letsgododgers

    Chad “The Bad” Billingsley? I say… yes!

    He has to be. What he did during the second half was amazing. I think this rotation will be a force which cant be matched if Ryu is what I hope he is. Dont knock Ryu either. WE HAVE A REALLY GOOD TEAM!!!

  • Adrian Garcia

    A.J. Ellis figured out Chad Billingsley at the end of his year last year. Ellis had half a year to figure him out, and he went on that crazy tear that he had, its really as simple as just pounding the strike zone and staying healthy. He is going to be facing most teams #5 starters with Ryu, Beckett, Greinke, and Kershaw ahead of him 15 win season 3.40 era should be reachable

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