Which Chad Billingsley Will We Get Tonight?

Chad Billingsley was absolutely fantastic in his 2012 debut last week against the Padres, striking out 11 over 8.1 scoreless innings. Arguably the most effective outing of his career, it was the kind of performance we’d been waiting on from him for years, and after a down 2011 and an uneven spring training, raised hopes that this might be the year he finally figures it all out and becomes the top-of-the-rotation partner to Clayton Kershaw that we’ve always hoped he could be.

Of course, with Billingsley, talent has never been the problem. Consistency has, and we’ve seen this sort of performance from him before. What I want want to know now, as he heads into tonight’s start against Pittsburgh, is can he be expected to do it again? To judge, I’ve found Billingsley’s top ten starts (via Game Score) and then looked at how he was able to follow up those excellent outings.

Great Start
Follow-up
Date
Opp
IP
ER
K
BB
GS
Date
Opp
IP
ER
K
BB
GS
4/6/12
SD
8.1
0
11
1
87
4/11/12
PIT
-
-
-
-
-
4/17/11
STL
8.0
0
11
2
85
4/22/11
CHN
6/1
1
3
3
53
7/8/08
SF
9.0
0
8
0
85
7/13/08
FLA
7.0
1
13
0
76
5/14/11
ARI
8.0
0
8
2
84
5/19/11
SF
6.0
3
4
4
48
7/1/07
SD
7.0
0
9
0
80
7/6/07
FLA
5.0
3
3
5
45
9/3/10
SF
8,0
0
7
2
79
9/8/10
SD
5.1
4
5
6
41
8/15/06
FLA
7.0
0
9
1
79
8/21/06
SD
5.0
1
5
1
53
7/21/10
SF
9,0
0
3
2
78
7/27/10
SD
6.0
0
4
2
68
7/24/11
WAS
7.0
1
10
2
77
7/30/11
ARI
5.2
6
4
5
30
9/26/10
ARI
7.0
1
13
1
77
10/2/10
ARI
7.1
2
9
1
70
9/2/07
SD
7.0
0
9
1
77
9/7/07
SF
6.0
1
5
0
61

 

To be honest, that’s better than I had expected it to be. With the exception of his lousy start against Arizona in July of last year, Billingsley’s encore performances have ranged from decent to very good, with the July 2008 performance against the Marlins barely missing out on making the original list in the first place. Working in his favor tonight is that the Pirates are hardly a formidable offensive foe – Andrew McCutchen aside – and that’s somewhat of a theme for the team in the early going.

Can Billingsley keep it up? It’s fair to say that a large part of how successful this team will be this year depends on whether he can.

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