Once again, Chad Billingsley was fantastic through five innings. And once again, he fell apart in the sixth.
But here’s the kicker: I don’t know why that is, and right now, I don’t particularly care. This is clearly going to be an issue that he’ll need to overcome if he’s going to take the next step in his career, but for right now? For helping the team win in October? It doesn’t matter to me.
Dodger Thoughts has a great look at exactly how far he’s fallen off the cliff in the sixth inning in the last few months, but what’s important to me is how good he’s been in the first five. Just look at his two starts since returning to the rotation. On September 23 against the Nationals, he had a no-hitter through five innings before giving up a homer to Ryan Zimmerman in the sixth. Last night against the Padres, he gave up one hit – granted, a solo homer – before falling apart in the sixth.
So if you take just the first five innings of those two starts, you get: 10 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 13 K, and 5 walks. Granted, the walks are more than you’d like to see, but how is anyone possibly complaining about a guy who strikes out 13 and allows 1 hit in 10 innings?
The point is, if Billingsley’s only a five-inning pitcher right now, so be it. The Dodgers more than have enough bullpen to back him up, and in a short series with off-days, there’s no worry about exhausting the pen.
What it really comes down to is, you’ve got nine innings to get through. Do you want five great innings from Billingsley, or seven mediocre ones from Jon Garland? I know which way I’m leaning.