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Breakfast Baseball Beckons, Billingsley Boasts Best Bet

Today's early start (10:05am) features a world class pitching matchup of the highest order. The two respective aces take the hill, as Chad Billingsley of the Dodgers faces Cole Hamels of the Phillies. The two pitchers are remarkably similar, and here is the tale of the tape:

Billingsley Pitcher Hamels
24 years, 289 days Age 25 years, 138 days
6'1" Height 6'3"
245 lbs
Weight 190 lbs
Right Bats/Throws Left
485.1 IP 566.1
40-20 W-L 39-25
.667 Win% .609
8.3 H/9 8.0
0.7 HR/9 1.2
4.1 BB/9 2.4
8.3 K/9 8.6
136 ERA+ 128
.247/.334/.365 Opponents .237/.287/.408
2 years, 110 days MLB Service Time 2 years, 143 days
Left leg Broken Limb Left arm

Cole Hamels ended 2008 with a flourish: four wins and a 1.80 ERA in five postseason starts, MVP of both the NLCS and World Series, an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, and the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Hamels even signed a $20.5-million contract this offseason, in part because he has about a month more of service time than Billingsley. Billingsley's big payday will come soon, perhaps as soon as this winter, when he becomes arbitration-eligible for the first time.

For Billingsley to cash in, he just has to keep pitching like he has been so far this season. He is 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 47.2 innings, helping erase the memory of his poor performance in last year's NLCS. Per Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:

"It's really how you respond to the setbacks that determines how you are," Torre says.

So far, Billingsley has responded by throwing inside more, particularly to left-handers. He has responded by replacing the departed Derek Lowe as the Dodgers' ace.

Game on.

The Dodgers are 3-4 in getaway games this season.

Get your guesses in for "Just A Bit Outside" here.

Box Score | Gameday