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Chad Billingsley And The Ace Treatment

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Chad Billingsley has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last five starts, the longest such streak of his career. What's interesting, if not gratifying, is that he was allowed to do so. Here are Billingsley's last five starts, with his last plate appearance in each game:

Date Inn Score Base/Out Pitches Plate App Afterwards
4/23 @ Hou 7th 2-0 -2-, 0 outs 82 strikeout 1.1 IP, 23 pitches
4/28 @ SF 8th 3-2 ---, 0 outs 99 single 0.1 IP, 10 pitches
5/3 vs. SD 6th 3-1 1-3, 2 outs 98 RBI single 1 IP, 1 run, 13 pitches
5/8 vs. SF 6th 1-1 -2-, 2 outs 85 groundout 1 IP, 2 runs, 30 pitches
5/14 @ Phi 7th 2-1 ---, 2 outs 102 strikeout 1 IP, 21 pitches

In each of his last five games, Billingsley was allowed to bat in a close game, in a situation where Joe Torre would have been completely justified in pinch-hitting for his pitcher. While the strategic advantage of leaving Billingsley in can certainly be debated, I find it refreshing that Billingsley is now being treated as the ace.

Of course Billingsley was allowed to hit. He's going to be left in to pitch longer, because that's what aces do. After a few years of hearing that Billingsley could eventually be an ace, even as he was pitching as well as almost anyone else in the league, it's nice to know he is now firmly entrenched in the role, and is treated as such.

So don't be surprised tonight if, in the bottom of the seventh, in a close game, with Billingsley at 92 pitches or so, Torre allows his ace to bat. After all, in Chad we trust.

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Some notes:

  • Last night, the Mets made five errors, their most in a game since making six miscues in September 2007 in Philadelphia
  • Andre Ethier, in his last 11 games, is six for 47, and is hitting .128/.208/.149 over that span
  • Kids from local Variety Boys & Girls Club, 40 of them in all, will be the guest of Matt Kemp for tonight's game, as a part of "Kemp's Kids."
  • Eleven games into the Manny Ramirez suspension, the Dodgers have the same division lead over the Giants (6½ games) that they did when the suspension started on May 7
  • Ryan Church missing 3rd base in the 11th inning last night preserved a Mets' tradition, says George Vescey of the NY Times
  • Scoring in the first inning has been a Dodger staple this season. Per the press notes, "the Dodgers have scored a major league-leading 42 first-inning runs...Los Angeles has scored in the first inning in 22 of their 40 games, and is 17-5 in those contests…the Dodgers are outscoring the opposition 42-14 in the first inning."
  • In his last 11 games, Juan Pierre has a .527 OBP in 56 plate appearances
    No team in baseball has given up fewer runs than the Dodgers (154, 3.85 per game). Only Toronto (234 runs, 5.71 per game) has scored more runs than the Dodgers (225, 5.62 per game)
  • 5 is the number of consecutive games missed by Jose Reyes, nursing a sore right calf. That streak will end tonight, as Reyes will return to the lineup

Tonight's lineups:

Mets Dodgers
SS Reyes LF Pierre
LF Murphy SS Furcal
CF Beltran 2B Hudson
3B Wright RF Ethier
RF Church C Martin
2B Martinez 1B Loney
1B Reed CF Kemp
C Santos 3B Blake
P Maine P Billingsley

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

Box Score | Gameday