Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Start or Sit: Chad Billingsley at Giants 4/12/2011

Chad Billingsley vs Giants
In the current infant stage of the 2011 MLB season, Chad Billingsley already has a record against the intrastate and divisional foes, the San Francisco Giants, having won the first start of the season at Chavez Ravine.

Since his debut as a Dodger, Billingsley boasts 7 wins in 16 starts vs the Giants, sporting numbers (2.73 ERA 1.26 WHIP .258 BAA) mostly better than his career averages (3.60/1.36/.248) in 108.2 IP.

Last year he absolutely dominated the Giants both at home and away, not allowing more than 2 ER in 5 starts, completely shutting them out in 3 of those outings.

Chad Billingsley vs Giants Batters
For the 2011 campaign the Giants not only went out and acquired a bat, but also called up one of the more intriguing prospects to bolster their offensive lineup - which teetered towards being weak despite the World Series win last year - in Miguel Tejada and Brandon Belt, respectively.

Clearly pleased with themselves after the veteran signings of Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff of the previous year, the Giants are hoping that Tejada will make enough of an impact, and even though he went 0/2 against Billingsley in the first game, he sports a lifetime numbers of .350 AVG .409 OBP .550 SLG.

As for Belt, even though his first taste of the majors thus far has been, well, brutal (.161/.257/.290 in 31 AB), the lone bright spot is the 3-run HR off Billingsley that accounts for 75% of his RBI this year.

As you may guess from Billingsley's career numbers against the Giants, the rest of the Giants regulars sport mostly anemic numbers against the young Dodger right-hander, except for Aaron Rowand and Buster Posey.

On the bench, Mike Fontenot and Nate Schierholtz boast good numbers against Billingsley, but it remains to be seen (will update when the lineups are posted) whether they will get the starting nods.

Trends and Injuries
The Giants have already lost 4 out of 5 games against the Dodgers this year, stymied by Clayton Kershaw twice and unable to generate enough offense in 2 close games (one involving a duel between Billingsley and Jonathan Sanchez).

Billingsley, after notching the win against the Giants in the first start of the season where he really made one mistake to Belt on the 3-run HR, got rocked at Coors Field (oh, the trend continues) for 5 ER in just 3 IP.

On the injury-front, Rafael Furcal's seemingly never-ending love affair with the DL continues in 2011 with news that he has now broken his thumb and is considering retirement. Furcal was hardly getting on base anyway this year, so this could actually be a good thing for Dodgers, given that Jamey Carroll is not only playing good defense, but also getting hits.

Opposing Pitcher
Tim Lincecum. Need I say more? OK, I should write just a sentences on Lincecum, at least to say that he's pitching very well this year and he thoroughly dominates the Dodgers' lineup.

The Call: SIT
Despite dominating most of the SF bats, Billingsley just doesn't fair well-enough at AT&T Park for some reason. Perhaps it's the Giants pitching, but in 3 starts alone last year at AT&T, Billingsley has a 0-1 record along with 1.37/0.97/.194 15 K in 19 IP, and just 2 wins in 54 IP (the last and lone win as a starter back in 7/13/2007).

The slight upgrade to the Giants offense - that's already tainted Billingsley's numbers this year - in addition to Billingsley's lack of win success at AT&T and the Dodger's unlikelihood of hitting Lincecum, I'll be showing Billingsley the bench on this start.

Prediction: L, 6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 5 K.

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