Whenever Tommy John faces off against a big league pitcher, Tommy John always wins.
And so Chad Billingsley becomes the latest victim of the infamous surgery, as he will be gone for the rest of this year and a good portion of 2014. He was originally injured towards the end of last season, opted not to have surgery, and only lasted two starts this year.
It's a shame for Billingsley, as he really thought he was getting the results he needed with injections into his elbow to repair the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. He rested the season's final two months, threw again in October, and felt good to go for this season. And he was good to go in Spring Training at least, as he didn't have any problems.
He had a couple of good starts against the Padres, picking up a win with a 3.00 ERA. All signs were encouraging... right up until he reported soreness during a bullpen session last Friday. And that, my friends, was all it took to put him on the shelf.
Now in his eighth year in LA, Billingsley has a career record of 81-61 with a 3.65 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. While those numbers are pretty good, I've always had the feeling that he could've done so much more. I remember a time when it was Billingsley, and not Clayton Kershaw, who was the Dodgers' future ace. My how quickly things can change. Of course, that's more a credit to how great Kershaw has been, but Billingsley has certainly not been the top-tier pitcher he looked like he could have been.
And now there's elbow surgery, which can go one of two ways. He can make a recovery and be stronger than before, which would be great for a power pitcher like him. Or, it can be yet another reason why his once promising career looks to be unfulfilled.
We'll all have to tune in next season to see which direction he's heading.