Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Start or Sit: Chad Billingsley vs Brewers

I have a personal fondness for the Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley.

Ever since his whiff*-appeal caught my eyes on The Cube in 2006, I've been a fan.

After a beautiful full-season debut in 2007 where he won 12 games - posting 3.31 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 131 K in 147 innings - Billingsley improved on those numbers the next year - posting an ERA of 3.14 in 200 2/3 innings, striking out full 9 per frame - en route to winning 16 games.

Billingsley continued his success in 2009, putting up 3.38 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 119 K, in 19 first half starts while logging 125 1/3 innings.

Then after the All-Star break, Billingsley was pounded by the Houston Astros at home, lasting just 1 2/3 innings and giving up 6 runs on 9 hits. Post-break he went on to start 14 games, but failed to log 30 IP in each month of the second half, including another 1 2/3 IP outing (at home against the San Francisco Giants, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks).

It may not be an overstatement for me to say that Chad Billinsley single-handedly ruined my 2009 fantasy baseball season in the second half. Despite this very personal sabotage, I'm still a Billingsley fan, but I'm proceeding with some caution this year.

Billingsley's success in 2007 and 2008 was due to his ability to squirm out of jams, as his LOB% was significantly above average. In the current year, his LOB% has decreased, following the trend set in the past year.

In five 2010 starts thus far, Billingsley has presented us with both the Top-Billingsley (@PIT, WAS, and PIT) and the Bottom-Billingsley (ARI and @CIN), while posting a hefty H/9 of over 10 - compared to 8.3 H/9 in the past four years - along with 4.1 BB/9.

So which Billingsley will show up at Dodger Stadium hosting the Milwaukee Brewers?

The Gut says Bottom-Billingsley, without a doubt. But of course, we have to look into the numbers and the trends.

Chad Billingsley vs Milwaukee Brewers Batters
In his four previous seasons, Billinsley has a brilliant BAA against the current lineup of Brewers (.135 in 52 AB), but with a healthy number of bases allowed on balls.

Chad Billingsley vs Milwaukee Brewers
Billingsley has gone 3-2 in three starts and two relief appearances against the Brewers posting an overall numbers of 20 2/3 IP, 18 H, 12 ER, 10 BB, and 17 K for a 5.23 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and .231 BAA. In two starts at Miller Park, Billingsley went 1-0 with 4.15 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, giving up 6 ER in 13 IP. In his lone start at home, Billingsley notched a win by giving up 3 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, and striking out 5, with two of the runs being scored on a Gabe Kapler HR.

Trends and Injuries
Coming off a decent outing at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Billingsley dispelled rumors that he was hiding an injury, but displayed control that was still suspect. The Brewers are 4th from last in total runs scored in the past seven days, despite a huge offensive outburst against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers bullpen last night.

Opposing Pitcher
Doug Davis will get lit up by the Dodgers. They basically own him.

The Call: Sit
Billingsley has pretty good numbers against the current core of the Brewers batters (Ryan Braun, Cecil Fielder, and Rickie Weeks). His career numbers against the Brewers are tainted by batters other than those previously mentioned. Billingsley still seems to be struggling with his command. He's successes this year have come against the Pirates and Nationals. All these factors indicate that Billingsley's going to allow base runners and will be pitching out of the stretch constantly, which means trouble. He may come out with a victory if he can last five frames, but the damage to the ERA and WHIP may not be worth it.

* Basically another term for stuff: HIP (WHIP minus W) plus K/9 rate

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