Tag:Chad Billingsley
Posted on: June 15, 2010 7:22 pm

Dodgers place Billingsley on DL

CINCINNATI -- An already thin rotation became even more threadbare for the Dodgers on Tuesday when they placed right-hander Chad Billingsley on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin.

Billingsley was scheduled to start Thursday's series finale here against the Reds. Instead, rookie John Ely will do that, and another rookie Carlos Monasterios will start Friday's series opener in Boston.

Posted on: May 16, 2010 8:29 pm

Dodgers keep winning, hold breath for Ethier

The most significant thing about the Dodgers' seven-game winning streak is found behind the numbers:

They've put all of that together without shortstop Rafael Furcal (strained hamstring) and opening day starter Vicente Padilla (right elbow soreness), who are on the disabled list, and they've won the last two games without Andre Ethier (fractured right pinky).

The Ethier loss is still fluid, and the Dodgers will not know until later this week whether they'll have to place him on the disabled list.

If he misses significant time, it will make life tough on the Dodgers because, as Sunday's games started, Ethier led the NL in all three Triple Crown categories: Batting average (.392), home runs (11) and RBI (38). In fact, he leads the majors in two of those categories -- average and RBI.

Manager Joe Torre said following Sunday's 1-0 win in San Diego that the plan is to "wait a couple of days" and "let some of the soreness come out. Then we'll see what he can do with it and decide if that's enough.

"The last thing I want is for him to go out and do something and get into bad habits."

Ethier injured himself in the batting cage before Saturday night's game while in the midst of his regular pre-game routine. Torre said Ethier's right pinky finger -- on his bottom hand as the lefty swings the bat -- always has had a tendency to slip off the knob and sort of fall behind the bat handle. That leaves the bat handle threading through Ethier's right ring and pinky fingers.

The fracture is in the area of the first knuckle of Ethier's right pinky -- the one closest to the fingernail.

Torre said the trainers will place the finger in "some kind of splint" to immobilize it and hope it calms down in a day or two.

"A lot depends on what we find out over the next couple of days," Torre said. "As far as his comfort level."

In the midst of this, the Dodgers received excellent starts this weekend from Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley and are 12-3 since April 30 -- the best record in baseball since that date.

"It's big because we've put a streak together for ourselves where we've played good baseball and gotten good pitching," Torre said. "We were fumbling around early trying to get a good feel."

"It's been good," said first baseman James Loney, whose clutch home run helped win Saturday's game.

The Dodgers now are 17-7 in games when they hit at least one homer, and 3-10 when they don't homer.

One other significant stat: They're now 12-3 in games against NL West opponents. Cleaning up within the division is exactly how they won the NL West in 2009: They went 46-26 against the Padres, Giants, Rockies and Diamondbacks.

Posted on: April 22, 2010 11:59 pm
Edited on: April 23, 2010 6:06 pm

Short Hops: Bullpens reaching critical mass

Short hops, quick pops and backhand stops:

 Where legendary manager/raconteur Casey Stengel once groused, "Can't anybody here play this game?", Dave Trembley (Baltimore), A.J. Hinch (Arizona), Trey Hillman (Kansas City), Ron Washington (Texas), Lou Piniella (Cubs) and Fredi Gonzalez (Florida) are among the skippers anguishing through today's modern translation: "Can't anybody here pitch in the late innings?"

Nearly three weeks in, and bullpens in each of those places range from blown up to still-smoldering. While the issues and problems are disparate, there are a couple of things in play here.

One, as Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher suggests, some relievers are still attempting to settle into the regular season's erratic workload after pitching regularly scheduled stints throughout spring training.

Two, the spectacular number of blown saves in Baltimore (two conversions in six opportunities), Texas (two in five) and Kansas City (four in nine) add grist to the argument against rigidly locking your closer into the ninth innings. Sometimes, the eighth inning is the game-changer. Sometimes it's the seventh.

"The way the bullpen sets up today, you've got a closer for the seventh inning, a closer for the eighth inning and a closer for the ninth inning," Butcher says.

So, given the nature of specialty bullpens, in an era when there are no Goose Gossage-style closers who can get seven or eight outs, maybe what's needed is less managing-by-the-book and more imagination. Maybe if the Royals, for example, summoned Joakim Soria sooner rather than later, they wouldn't have suffered four of their first five losses in games in which they led in the seventh inning.

In Texas, Frank Francisco has been removed as closer in favor of Neftali Feliz. In Baltimore, Mike Gonzalez, who blew save opportunities on both opening day and in the Orioles' home opener, went to the disabled list with a shoulder strain (and in his place, Jim Johnson has blown two of three save opportunities).

The 2-14 Orioles have lost five games in which they've led in the eighth inning or later. Texas has lost four such games. Kansas City starters already have been cost five wins because of blown saves (including two each for Zack Greinke and Brian Bannister), while Arizona, Milwaukee, Florida and Cubs' starters have lost four victories to blown saves.

The Diamondbacks suffered back-to-back walk-off losses on April 15 (Blaine Boyer, at Los Angeles) and April 16 (Juan Rodriguez, at San Diego). Then, Arizona's pen was hammered for five ninth-inning St. Louis runs Wednesday in what at the time was a tied game.

The Cubs' plight caused Lou Piniella to move erstwhile ace Carlos Zambrano from the rotation to eighth-inning set-up man for closer Carlos Marmol in an absolutely stunning move of desperation. Through Tuesday, the Cubs had surrendered 16 eighth-inning runs, a major-league high. They also had allowed 32 runs in the seventh and eighth innings combined, also the most in the majors.

"A vast majority of these games are decided in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings," Piniella explained -- as opposed to, say, the first-through-sixth innings, when Zambrano (and Greinke and Dan Haren and Kevin Millwood) usually is on the mound.

This continues, some brave manager -- Washington with Feliz? Gonzalez with Leo Nunez? -- is going to call on his closer to protect a one-run lead in the eighth instead of the ninth, out of self-defense if nothing else. And maybe that will be the start of a new -- and welcome -- trend.
 Biggest culprits in blowing up opposing bullpens? Detroit this season has caused a whopping seven blown saves, while the Dodgers have caused six. Though, as manager Jim Leyland noted Thursday in Anaheim, it would make life far easier for the Tigers if they'd start scoring on starting pitchers.

 Regarding the scorched-earth pen in Texas, the Rangers already have lost five games they've led in the seventh inning or later this year. Last year, they lost only six of those games over their 162-game schedule.

 Baltimore hitters with runners in scoring position: A big-league worst .155 (17-for-110). And .103 (6-for-58) with RISP and two out.

 Chad Billingsley has a 7.07 ERA lodged in his throat after surrendering seven runs and seven hits to Cincinnati on Tuesday, Dodgers manager Joe Torre says it looks like the pitcher has confidence issues and Billingsley says his confidence is fine. Torre and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said Billingsley had command issues, Billingsley said he didn't. And in other news, the Dodgers say the earth is round and Billingsley says it's flat. This all had better get worked out, pronto.

 The suddenly reeling Giants, who went from 7-2 to getting swept by the Padres, face contenders St. Louis, Philadelphia and Colorado in a homestand beginning Friday and are perfectly set up for the Cards: Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Matt Cain are lined up to start.

 The Twins, according to sources, had what they viewed as a workable deal to acquire Padres closer Heath Bell after Joe Nathan was hurt this spring but veered away because they were nervous over character issues. Bell's outspoken manner at times can grate on teammates.

 When is this guy going to get some work? Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton has converted his only save opportunity this season, and though he's only appeared in six of 15 games, one scout who has watched him this year and in spring training raves about him. "Mariano Rivera still sets the bar, but Jonathan Broxton right now is every bit as good," the scout says. "I saw him this spring and I've seen him this year, and je just comes in pumping strikes at 96 miles an hour."

 Glad to see baseball came to grips with Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon's hoodie. Now let's move on to the maple bat issue before somebody gets decapitated.

 Sure wish Milton Bradley would quit giving everybody so much material. Now the Chicago landlord who sued Bradley for $44,000 in unpaid rent over the winter alleges that Bradley also caused $13,900 in damage to the condo with wine, food, juice and coffee stains as well as paint stains.

 One thing I neglected to mention last week while reviewing the Twins' superb new Target Field: The excellent touches extend all the way to the crew responsible for the in-game music, especially the inspired choices of playing clips of The Hold Steady's Stay Positive during key moments for the Twins in the late innings and Bruce Springsteen's Long Walk Home after losses.

 Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker may have a crack pinch-running candidate in-house and not even know it: Congratulations to Reds media relations guru Rob Butcher, who sets the bar in his day job, for not only completing the Boston Marathon on Monday but for doing so in 3:24:59. That's 7:49 per mile!

Posted on: October 14, 2009 10:36 pm

Phillies expected to pitch Manny inside again

LOS ANGELES -- Though he no longer carries the Dodger lineup on his back like he did last year, all eyes will remain on Manny Ramirez when Game 1 begins Thursday simply because of memories of how the Phillies treated him in last year's NLCS.

When Brett Myers buzzed Ramirez in Game 2, it nearly caused an international incident. It probably would have had Chad Billingsley or any other Dodger pitcher bothered to step up and respond.

Ramirez isn't the same hitter now as he was then -- he hit just .255 with 10 homers and 34 RBI after the All-Star break this year -- but that doesn't mean the Phillies will treat him more lightly.

Nobody knows Ramirez better than Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel, who became a father-figure to Manny during their years together in Cleveland in the 1990s (Manny as hitting savant, Manuel as the club's hitting coach).

And from the opposing dugout, Manuel always has believed that the most effective way to pitch Ramirez is to "move him around" in the box.

Doesn't necessarily mean drill him.

But it does mean pitch him tight inside, perhaps uncomfortably inside, certainly enough to make him move his feet and back away from the plate.

That Manny isn't the force he was a year ago was evident during Wednesday's workouts in Dodger Stadium. At his formal press briefing, Manuel wasn't asked one question about Ramirez.

The Dodgers, though, spent plenty of time answering questions on the importance for their pitchers to work both sides of the plate -- even though they essentially broadcast their main answer nationally when they unveiled their rotation and Chad Billingsley wasn't in it.

"Pitchers pitch to their strengths and weaknesses," Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa said. "Clayton Kershaw pitches inside. Randy Wolf pitches inside. Vicente Padilla pitches inside."

All three of those were named to the Dodgers' NLCS rotatoin -- Kershaw starting Game 1, Padilla Game 2 and Wolf Game 4. Hiroki Kuroda will start Game 3.

"Pitchers have got to do what they did all year," Bowa said. "I don't think you can say, 'This is the playoffs, I'm going to change.'"

Said manager Joe Torre: "I think it's important all year to [pitch inside]. But last year it got out of hand over there [in Philadelphia] on us. I thought the next game, when we played it back here, sort of showed that we could pitch effectively.

"But again, it's something that you always encourage pitchers to do, and you make sure that your'e able to go out there and make sure that you have a presence as far as knowing what's yours and what's theirs."


Posted on: October 14, 2009 7:23 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2009 7:36 pm

Dodgers choose Kershaw for Game 1

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are coming strong out of the gate with a left-hander against Philadelphia in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday, opting to hand the ball to rookie Clayton Kershaw, 21.

The decision not only emphasizes the Dodgers' growing confidence in Kershaw, who started Game 2 against St. Louis last round after defeating Colorado on the final Saturday of the season to clinch the NL West, but also allows them to position a lefty right away to face Philadelphia's big left-handed bats: Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. Kershaw was 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA against the Phillies in two 2009 regular-season starts.

The rotation also is notable on a couple of other levels, from going with the kid in Game 1 to starting August acquisition Vicente Padilla in Game 2 to leaving All-Star Chad Billingsley out completely. Hiroki Kuroda will start Game 3 and Randy Wolf Game 4.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel named lefty Cole Hamels as his Game 1 starter, as expected. Manuel declined to go beyond that until the Phillies finalize their roster, probably either later tonight or Thursday morning.

In last year's NLCS, which the Phillies won in five games, the Dodgers went with a three-man rotation and started all right-handers: Derek Lowe, Billingsley and Kuroda.

Padilla, who essentially was kicked off of the team in Texas this year after several run-ins with teammates and management, ascended to the Game 2 start based on his seven impressive innings against St. Louis last round, manager Joe Torre said.

Billingsley's absence is particularly noteworthy not only because he was an All-Star in July, but because he was the starting pitcher against Philadelphia last year in Game 2 when the Phillies' Brett Myers knocked Manny Ramirez off the plate and the Dodgers failed to respond.

Billingsley was the losing pitcher that day, and he lost more than the game. He also lost face in his own clubhouse as several Dodgers were angry that he did not respond and protect their best player. His fortitude has been questioned ever since and, though he seemed close to leaving that behind while pitching like an All-Star the first half of the season, those questions came back to dog him as he slumped down the stretch.

Kuroda, who wasn't even on the active roster last round because of a bulging disk in his neck, has been working at the Dodgers' facility in Arizona. Manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt journeyed there to watch him Tuesday and came away impressed enough to pick him to start Game 3.

"I wasn't hopeful that he would be ready for this round with the way things started with him," Torre said.

But the manager said he was "comfortable" watching Kuroda pitch Tuesday.

"He may not be as good as we want him to be, but still, off of what he did for us last year, it's something that we felt we wanted to give a shot to," Torre said of Kuroda, who won two postseason games for the Dodgers last year, holding the Cubs and Phillies to a combined two runs in 12 1/3 innings in the process.

Meantime, Wolf, a second lefty in the starting quartet, is bumped down to Game 4 after pitching Game 1 against St. Louis.

While he seemed disappointed, Wolf chose not to complain.

"I feel like I have an opportunity in Game 4 to help the team win," he said.


Posted on: September 13, 2009 9:51 pm

Chad bad for Dodgers ... again

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Dodgers have the best record in the National League, they've nearly clinched a playoff spot and they have probable home field advantage until the World Series.

So why does it feel like they might be vulnerable?

Chad Billingsley's second-half, that's why.

Billingsley, the supposed ace, lasted only 70 pitches in Sunday's 7-2 whipping by San Francisco. The Giants scored three runs and collected eight hits against him in four innings. He left a fat pitch for Juan Uribe to whack for a two-run homer in the second.

Were it a one-time slip, it would be one thing. But Billingsley, an NL All-Star, seems to have left his stuff in St. Louis. He's 3-6 with a 5.49 ERA since, and he doesn't seem to know how to fix it.

"It just looked to me like he was feeling for it," manager Joe Torre said. "It didn't look like he was able to locate."

"The cutter," Billingsley said of his cut fastball. "That's mostly what was getting hit today. It was spinning out of my hand. It wasn't moving too much."

Is that a recurring problem?

"Usually, it doesn't do that," Billingsley said.

He's got three weeks -- and probably three more starts -- to iron things out and give Dodgers fans confidence when he's matched up against Philadelphia's Cliff Lee or St. Louis' Chris Carpenter in Game 1 of a playoff series.

Worrisome thing is, nobody seems close to any answers.

"It's sort of a domino effect, I think," Torre said. "The psychological effect of not winning, trying to find that niche for yourself, that comfort zone."

Likes: Colorado at San Francisco beginning on Monday with at least some juice to it. Must-win for San Francisco. Heck, must-sweep for San Francisco. ... Tony Bennett singing I Left My Heart in San Francisco on the sound system at the Giants' ballpark after Sunday's game, accompanied by loving, gorgeous video of The City on the scoreboard. ... Tommaso's Italian Restaurant on Kearny in North Beach. ... What a great Michigan-Notre Dame game on Saturday. ... What a great USC-Ohio State game. ... Very entertaining start to the college football season. ... Good news on the Michigan high school football front Friday with Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central pummeling Flat Rock 40-0. Next victim for the Falcons: New Boston Huron, Friday night.

Dislikes: Early morning school days.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Come on children
"You´re acting like children
"Every generation thinks
"It's the end of the world
"And all you fat followers
"Get fit fast
"Every generation thinks it´s the last
"Thinks it's the end of the world"

-- Wilco, You Never Know


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