CHAD BILLINGSLEY, 29, starting pitcher
Final 2013 stats: 1-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, .286 opponent batting average, 4.5 strikeouts per nine innings in all of two starts.
Contract status: One season left on his three-year deal for $12 million. Dodgers have an option for 2015 at $14 million, with a $3 million buyout.
The good: Hey, he tried. Anyway, that was supposed to be the good news. Billingsley attempted to avoid elbow surgery, trying to strengthen the elbow he injured in the summer of 2012 during the off-season.
Things looked fairly promising in spring training and he began the season back in the rotation. He went six innings in each of his two starts before the elbow got him, he closed it down and gave in to Tommy John surgery.
The bad: If Billingsley had elected to have the surgery when he first tore the ligament, he might have rejoined the Dodgers at mid-season and been part of their postseason. Instead, it was a lost year.
What’s next: His rehab is reportedly going well, though everyone is being very careful not to proclaim when he will be back. Originally, the Dodgers were talking April, though now May is heard a lot.
The take: If the Dodgers knew that Billingsley could return to his All-Star form, they would not have to consider going after Masahiro Tanaka or David Price. They would already have a great, set rotation.
The trouble is, they can’t be sure exactly how well he (and Josh Beckett) will be able to pitch coming off surgery. Some come back very well from Tommy John, others seem to need a full season to really get their arm in complete shape.
But for all the whining about Billingsley not being hard-nosed enough through the years, he’s never had a losing season and threw over 180 innings in four consecutive years before injuring his elbow. If he can come back and approach his 2008 form (16-10, 3.14), the Dodgers will have baseball’s deepest rotation.
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