With only two starts remaining this season, there isn't much Chad Billingsley can do to alter the outlook of his season. I'm not sure if "up and down" does the season justice. Maybe "middling" is the best way to describe it.
The lack of missed bats has been alarming of late, as he has just 30 strikeouts in his last nine starts, to go with his 28 walks. During that span, he has surpassed three strikeouts in a start just twice. Billingsley himself has cited a mechanical flaw as reason for his struggles.
In his last start, Billingsley did pitch into the seventh inning. He did strikeout only two batters, but also induced a season-high five infield popups, at the very least an improvement. "I was able to make adjustments and corrections [during the game] and I'm just going to build on it," Billingsley told Jim Peltz of the LA Times, calling it his best outing in several starts.
A.J. Ellis caught Billingsley in that start, and will do so again today in the Dodgers' series finale with the Pirates. Don Mattingly at several points this season has expressed distaste for the concept of a personal catcher, but it seems that, every once in a while Mattingly finds a way to make sure Ellis and Billingsley match up with one another. In seven starts with Ellis behind the plate, Billingsley's ERA is 2.15; in his other 23 starts, his ERA is 5.05.
However, upon further scrutiny, the difference isn't really much at all:
|2011 Chad Billingsley By Catcher|
This seems to support Mattingly not wanting to cling to a personal catcher.
On the fifth anniversary of the 4+1 game, Jon Weisman has an epic recount of the game at Dodger Thoughts. A must read and a fun stroll down memory lane.
Game Time: 1:10 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket