Los Angeles Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley was hammered early and often in his first Spring Training outing against the Chicago Cubs, giving up a pair of doubles and a homer against his first three batters.
And the righty couldn’t be happier with his results.
That’s largely because the Dodgers No. 3 starter made it through a pair of innings of work without any issues to his right elbow, which was just about falling apart by the end of the 2012 season.
Billingsley landed on the DL twice because of the injury, and narrowly avoided Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn ligament that cost him his final 36 games of the season, choosing instead to rehab the issue and try to fix it with platelet-rich plasma injections in the off-season.
He’d declared himself healthy before Spring Training, but it was still a major question mark until he took the mound. The two innings on Monday was major checkpoint in his progress, and the 28-year old went past it without slowing down.
That Billingsley also faced some additional adversity while on the mound, too, could be see as another positive sign, as the righty bounced back well from the rough start, retiring five out of his next six batters without giving up a walk the rest of the way.
The long-time Dodgers innings-eater is facing a rather large group of competition for a rotation spot this season, and he knows that if he were to suffer a setback, there would be no less than three MLB-ready arms who will be happy to take his place.
Barring that, though, Los Angeles will give him an inside track, especially given that Billingsley had been a reliable and durable starter right up until the 2012 season.
Even though his 149.2 innings represented a career-low since his first full season with the team, the right-hander was steady as always, posting a 3.55/1.29 ERA/WHIP and showing good control (2.84 K/BB) before having to be shut down for the season.
That’s one of the main reasons why the Dodgers decided to keep so many starting pitchers around, despite clearly not having room for all of them in the rotation. With a couple more outings like Monday’s, Billingsley could force the team to start dealing some of that depth.