The Los Angeles Dodgers received great news on the status of pitcher Chad Billingsley as he pitched two innings of a simulated game and was reported to be pain-free.
“It looks like he’s going to be ready for the 2013 season,” said Dave Stewart, Billingsley’s agent.
This development means that Billingsley will likely avoid the dreaded Tommy John surgery that has been looming over his–and the Dodgers’–head the past few months.
His fastball reportedly reached up to 94 mph, a very good sign.
It was feared that Billingsley, who sat out the last month and a half of the season with partially torn elbow ligaments, would be forced to undergo surgery to repair the elbow and would put him out for the entire 2013 season.
It would also deliver a blow to the Dodgers pitching rotation as well. After Clayton Kershaw and Josh Beckett, there is no clear-cut guy in the rotation. Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Joe Blanton were the other starters down the stretch of the 2012 season.
Capuano and Harang are still under contract next year, but Blanton is not expected back. While Capuano and Harang greatly over-achieved last season, it is likely that they will come back down to their normal averages.
Billingsley struggled early on and landed on the disabled list right before the All-Star break in July. However, upon his return, Billingsley was a man on fire, going 6-0 and posting an ERA of 1.80.
But the elbow pain just wouldn’t stay away, returning just in time to dampen the mood (ever so slightly) for Adrian Gonzalez‘s arrival to Chavez Ravine.
He began a throwing program in Cincinnati on Sept. 21. He has been increasing his velocity and power with each session, leading up to the simulated game.
The Dodgers will still look to add one more starter to the rotation. With Ted Lilly recovering from shoulder surgery, it is unknown just how much impact he will have on the team next year.
But having a healthy Billingsley changes the dynamic of the pitching staff. A rotation of Kershaw, Beckett, Billingsley, potential free-agent signing and Capuano/Harang is quite the formidable quintet.
An as the San Francisco Giants have proved in 2010 and 2012, solid pitching will lead you to the promise land.