CHAD BILLINGSLEY, 28, starting pitcher
Final 2012 stats: 10-9, 3.55 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 45 walks and 128 strikeouts in 149 2/3 innings.
Contract status: Entering second year of a three-year, $35-million contract.
The good: Showed some better control. Walks were down almost one per nine innings compared with previous season. Pitched well on the road (7-5, 2.93 ERA). Before injuring elbow in last start on Aug. 19, had a six-game stretch where he went 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA, holding opponents to a .197 batting average. People were getting excited, again.
The bad: Before that hot stretch, he was 4-9 with a 4.30 ERA and looking a little lost. People were thinking it was the same ol’ inconsistent Billingsley. Season ended with an elbow injury the Dodgers thought might require Tommy John surgery, but apparently it will not be necessary.
What’s next: A lot of crossing of the fingers. Billingsley is in camp in Arizona, rehabbing and conditioning the elbow. The last report was that he was throwing off the mound without pain.
The take: It’s difficult if not impossible for the Dodgers to enter into the 2013 season knowing with any certainty what to expect from Billingsley. That might not sound much different from most years, but this time it actually is.
Until his elbow gave out, he was giving them some of the best baseball of his six-year career. He was looking like that ace many always felt simmered under the surface.
But now there are not only the traditional questions about his consistency, there is uncertainty surrounding the elbow. Maybe it makes a full recovery and never troubles him again. And maybe by the middle of May, the tendon completely gives out and he’s off to have reconstructive surgery.
With Ted Lilly coming off shoulder surgery, the Dodgers actually have six starting pitchers. But questions surrounding Billingsley and Lilly -- and with the simple need to upgrade the rotation behind Clayton Kershaw -– has the Dodgers looking to add another significant starting pitcher this off-season.