Is The Loss of Chad Billingsley Going to Sink the Season?

Yesterday, in “news that is horrendously disappointing yet in no way surprising…” we learned that Chad Billingsley had been placed on the 60-day disabled list due to continued pain in his pitching elbow. While I’d long since given up on him returning as a starter this year, there was at least the hope that he could return as a short reliever to add an intriguing new weapon to the bullpen down the stretch. This doesn’t necessarily mean the injury is more severe than it was a few days ago, just that the determination has been made that he won’t be back this season, and that his 40-man spot is better used elsewhere, like adding Steven Rodriguez to the bullpen. (Yes, I know that Tommy John surgery is the most likely outcome, given that his UCL is ‘partially torn’. I’m trying to be optimistic. I can think of about 1,249,091 other things I’d rather talk about than the prospect of Billingsley losing his age-28 season to the zipper.)

That’s more than a little terrifying for what it means for his future, but for now, let’s focus on the remainder of 2012. Considering how effective Billingsley had been since returning from his initial stint on the DL, this counts as a massive blow to the Dodger playoff hopes. Sure, the continued and seemingly endless struggles of the shiny new offense have been discouraging, but at least the talent is in place there and all you can do right now is hope they work themselves out. Yet when you look at the rotation behind Clayton Kershaw… well, over at SI.com, pal Jay Jaffe looked at each of the starting staffs of NL contenders now that the impending shutdown of Stephen Strasburg has hopefully brought Washington back to the pack a bit. It’s not pretty, as the Dodgers rank in last by his counting, and in case you’re wondering there’s no bias here; Jay’s a lifelong Dodger fan.

Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw (2.97), Chris Capuano (3.74), Joe Blanton (4.12), Josh Beckett (4.18), bullpen (3.60). Pythagorean estimate: .499.

The Dodgers’ chances take a huge hit with the loss of Chad Billingsley (3.41), who if he returns from his latest bout of elbow inflammation will likely be limited to a bullpen role. That leaves the number two spot in the hands of the fading Capuano unless Beckett can rediscover his lost form. Note that the team’s chances fall if Aaron Harang (4.24) is swapped in for any of the starters. On the other hand, note that the 4.01 runs per game produced by the offense is based on a lineup that lacked Matt Kemp for two months and that more recently underwent a significant facelift via the additions of Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez, massive upgrades over the unproductive Dee Gordon, Juan Uribe and James Loney. Swap in the team’s second half scoring rate of 4.37 runs per game, and the Dodgers’ estimate rises to .541, even without Billingsley.

Kershaw is still Kershaw – some of those curves he was snapping off Tuesday night were among the tightest I’ve ever seen from him – but unfortunately, in the same way that Billingsley came back from a tough first half as we’d expected, Capuano is in the midst of a second-half slide. Capuano’s a notorious first-half pitcher (3.70 ERA vs 4.96 career) and it’s happening again this year, with a line of “.669 OPS against and  2.91 ERA in 18 starts before the break” turning into “.731 OPS against and  4.91 ERA in ten starts since,” a very worrisome trend.

Beyond Capuano… well, Beckett, Blanton, and Harang may all be the same kind of guy. Beckett was decent in his first start and very good in his second, but is still having a down year overall; Blanton was a disaster in his first four outings before turning it around for his last two; and Harang is what he is, a decent innings-eater who is fine for the long haul but who you absolutely do not want starting in a playoff game. They’re good space fillers, but not really the type of guy you want matched up against Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, or Johnny Cueto, which is exactly what might happen if the Dodgers are forced to use Kershaw in the final game or two against San Francisco or in a one-game wild card playoff immediately after.

I don’t want to get too pessimistic here, because you do still have Kershaw, this offense could catch fire in half a heartbeat and I still believe in the bullpen, especially when Kenley Jansen returns. And importantly above all, there’s still six head-to-head games with the Giants and four against the Cardinals (currently holding down that second wild card spot), and that allows the Dodgers to have some control over their fate rather than just watching San Francisco pull out a magic finish against some other team every night. It’s still eminently possible for the Dodgers to take this division back, or to sneak in as the wild card. They’re just running out of time, and with that first crack at the Giants coming tomorrow, it’s going to have to happen right now. With a starting rotation that features only one sure thing, support needs to come from somewhere else, so Kemp, Gonzalez, Victorino, etc: now would be a good time.

460 comments
Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

new post, bet you can guess the picture

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

new post coming that you're all going to hate... in 5 min.

Frank J Lapidus
Frank J Lapidus

Quick, name the last Giant starter to miss significant playing time.  And who was it?  

 

And don't expect me to answer because I honestly have no fucking clue.

Crow T Robot
Crow T Robot

I actually have some fucking sympathy with Carl's point, but not for the fucking reason he uses. When we're watching the fucking game in here and the fucking Dodgers are fucking struggling, every fucking post starts fucking looking like "Fuck this team!" and "This is fucking bullshit!" to the point where it gets fucking tiresome. I like to save my fucking "fucks" to fucking punctuate a fucking point I'm fucking trying to fucking make or for fucking humorous effect. This is my personal fucking opinion and if all the fucking cursing gets to be too fucking much, I can fucking leave and come back later. This fucking post probably has more fucking "fucks" in it than all my previous fucking posts combined. And no fucking politics or fucking religion was fucking mentioned. Are you fucking happy, now?

Gilbert_Vengeance
Gilbert_Vengeance

@Cadtalfryn Pretty sure that's what Mike is about to post about lol...

TheConman
TheConman

4 more years! 4 more years! (of ned colletti)

Crow T Robot
Crow T Robot

@Mike Petriello Good, it'll give us something to talk about on this lazy off-day

Crow T Robot
Crow T Robot

@Frank J Lapidus Christy Matthewson? Carl Hubbel? I'd actually like to know the real answer.

Joey Caltabellotta
Joey Caltabellotta

 @Crow T Robot Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs though. If he is offended by cussing then we should respect that. At least the way I feel.

Crow T Robot
Crow T Robot

I probably should have left the last sentence off. It almost makes it look like I might be seriously mad when I was just trying to make the point humorously.

Frank J Lapidus
Frank J Lapidus

 @Crow T Robot  @Frank yeah, see, no one knows.  Yet, every year the Dodgers lose at least 1 starter for at least some reason...Lilly and Bills this year, Rubby last year etc, but year after year those fucks up north never lose anyone.  It's just so suspicious.

Crow T Robot
Crow T Robot

@el serracho @Cadtalfryn That is one huge cock

Crow T Robot
Crow T Robot

@Joey Caltabellotta I absolutely would modify my language if I were talking to him personally, but this is a public forum with dozens of other posters and an existing culture.

Disgruntled Goat
Disgruntled Goat moderator

 @Joey Caltabellotta  @Crow T Robot if you start going down a list and disallowing anything that anybody claims to be offended by, we won't be doing much of anything. 

 

there is not a naturally born right to not be offended. 

 

 

Frank J Lapidus
Frank J Lapidus

 @Crow T Robot  @Frank and it's not like the Dodgers are alone with this problem, almost every team in MLB loses pitchers over the course of a season for various reasons.

Frank J Lapidus
Frank J Lapidus

 @Joey Caltabellotta  @el serracho  @Crow T Robot  @Joey I imagine at some point in history, words like 'fuck' were considered common discourse, and there were other 'cuss words' that today would not even bat an eyelash.  Point is, society changes, and maybe 50 years from now there will be other swear words that we don't even know about right now.  The word 'fuck' didn't even exist 2000 years ago.

Joey Caltabellotta
Joey Caltabellotta

 @el serracho  @Crow T Robot  @Joey I understand the logic of both you and Crow and find it to be very reasonable. I was pretty blown away by the concern over it in the first place because cussing is such a common thing that the only way to stay away from it is to sit in your house with the television off. I've heard fans yell fuck on television while watching Dodger games before. No real way to escape it.

Crow T Robot
Crow T Robot

@el serracho @Joey Caltabellotta @Joey (yup)

Disgruntled Goat
Disgruntled Goat moderator

 @Joey Caltabellotta  @Crow T Robot  @Joey 

 

Sorta what crow said - if people dislike cussing, i won't cuss TO them, but that doesn't mean i won't cuss in a place where they might possibly see it if they choose to be there. capiche? 

 

BE NICE TO PEOPLE, PEOPLE. 

Joey Caltabellotta
Joey Caltabellotta

 @Crow T Robot  @Joey Which is also something I told him. I'd have no problem not cussing if he were present, but if I don't see him posting then I'll speak as I please. I don't know. I guess I just kind of felt bad for the guy because he was so cool about it and everybody is just like "FUCK YOU!" to him.

Joey Caltabellotta
Joey Caltabellotta

 @el serracho  I'm not arguing that. As I said to Carl yesterday, I would never change myself for anybody but I still respect his opinion and beliefs, even if they aren't the same as mine.