It seems like an eternity ago that we were arguing against the "haters" who doubted that Chad Billingsley was or could be the Dodgers "true ace." In a lesson of re-calibrating expectations (plus, Clayton Kershaw and his Cy Young Award make the question of who is the Dodgers Ace an easy one) the open question for Billingsley is whether he's still a solid SP2 or SP3 for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. Billingsley posted another pretty disappointing year in 2011 (after a solid 2010) with some very discouraging peripherals. As can happen with young hard-throwing pitchers, Billingsley's K/9 has continued to decline. Worse however is that Billingsley did not manage his declining K rates with increased control (as he had done in 2010.) Instead, Billingsley recorded a BB/9 of 4.02 in 2011 which is the highest since being called up in 2006. Lastly, Billingsley also recorded a career high Line Drive percentage of 20.9%. To sum up, Billingsley is walking more, striking out fewer, and when the ball is put in play, the opponent is hitting it harder. One year does not make a career defining trend, but suffice it to say that Billingsley will need to fundamentally improve (particularly with his command) in order to establish himself as the number 2 starting pitcher behind Clayton Kershaw, because the Dodgers will certainly need it.
|2012 Dodgers Player Profiles|
|This continues our series of 2012 player profiles, where we will analyze one player per day, between now and the end of spring training. This is also the spot for our community projections, so be sure to give us your predictions for each player for this season in the comments section.
As this past off-season saw the end of the Jonathan Broxton era in Los Angeles, Chad Billingsley is now the longest tenured Dodger pitcher. Ramon Troncoso signed with the Dodgers one year before Billingsley but didn't make his Dodger debut until 2008 (2 years after Billingsley.) Only James Loney, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have been a Dodger (based on Dodger major league debut) longer than Chad.
At the end of spring training last year, the Dodgers worked out a contract extension with Billingsley which bought out his final arbitration season (would have been this year) plus an additional 2 years of free agency with a club option for a third. Billingsley will be paid $9MM in 2012.
Previous Dodgers Player Profiles
2011: Chad Billingsley
2010: Chad Billingsley
|2012Projections - Age 27Season|
As noted above, Billingsley is simply going to have to manage to reverse the recent trends in order to turn in a succcesful season in 2012. Again, I'm not terribly surprised or alarmed by the declining K rates however his command is going to have to improve. The walks must come down and Billingsley must manage to keep hitters guessing a bit better. Can he do it? As an unabashed Billingsley fanboy, I think he can.
I predict an ERA of 3.45, FIP of 3.25 and x-FIP of 3.75 in 210 innings pitched.
What is your prediction? Be sure to guess Billingsley's ERA, number of innings pitched, plus anything else you would like to predict.