Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I think we've seen the last of Billingsley with the Dodgers

Tough news, again, for Chad Billingsley on Monday, as he learned that he'll have to undergo season-ending surgery on his right elbow.  He tore the flexor tendon, so he'll be on the shelf for three months, start throwing in December, then should be good to go for Spring Training.

The team he'll be with in Spring Training most likely will not be the Dodgers.

Right now he's finishing out the final year of a three-year, $35 million deal he signed prior to the 2012 season.  Next year the Dodgers will either exercise a club option to pay him $14 million, or buy him out for $3 million.

Considering how the last three years have gone, I would be shocked to see the Dodgers bring him back for that kind of money, even with billionaires running the club.  Here's his numbers over the duration of his three-year deal:

2012: 25 starts, 10-9, 3.55 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 128 K's in 149 2/3 innings
2013: 2 starts, 1-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 6 K's in 12 innings
2014: Nothing

I remember when both Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw were young, powerful pitchers coming through the Dodgers' organization back around 2006 or so, and at the time, it was Billingsley who looked like the ace of the staff.  He had an electric arm, and the knock on Kershaw at the time was that he was a bit too erratic.

Well, two Cy Young Awards later, it's certainly Kershaw who's done the better of the two.  Then again, Kershaw has outperformed pretty much everybody, so that's a tough comparison.  Still, Billingsley was often his own worst enemy, as he would look fantastic for five innings, then hit a wall and get drilled in the sixth.  He usually found ways to get the job done with a career 3.55 ERA, but a 1.36 WHIP is a bit high and shows how many runners reached base off of him.

You can never have enough starting pitching, something the Dodgers know more than any other team with the way they cycle through injuries.  With that said, about the only way I can see Billingsley coming back is if the club buys him out, they reach a new deal for a lot less money, and he's given a chance to show how healthy his arm is in Spring Training of 2015.

Do I think that will happen?  Nope.  I think the Dodgers are at a point where they see a combination of a pitcher who was slowly starting to slip, plus a now long list of injuries.  They can certainly afford to sign other pitchers who are healthier, and that's the route I believe they will take.

I wish nothing but the best to Billingsley in his surgery next Tuesday and recovery as he fights his way back into the Majors.  I just don't think it will be with the Dodgers.

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