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How Do You Solve a Problem Like Billingsley?

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Remember the days when Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley was that reliable arm? It didn’t matter what happened the night before. It was a given when he was given the ball you could pencil in a win for the Dodgers.

Since August 23 Billingsley in five starts has an 0-4 record with an 5.67 ERA. Opponents are batting .342 against him. Mind you these aren’t World Series caliber opponents. These numbers are against Cincinnati, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks twice and the San Francisco Giants.

“I’m sure he’s frustrated,” manager Joe Torre said of Billingsley’s mindset. “Physically he’s fine which is the good news. It’s just a matter of getting the good feeling back.”

I’m sure no good feelings happened in Sunday’s game when the Dodgers faced the l’enfant terrible Tubby (aka Brad Penny) in San Francisco. Tubby gave up two runs in the seventh inning shutting down the Dodgers all afternoon. Billingsley and Jeff Weaver combined went 5 1/3 innings giving up seven runs.

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Now to get the “good feeling” back.

“You pretty much have to feel it,” Torre said. “You know what it is. You know what you have to do. A lot of times when you’re out there you sort of feel your way.”


“It’s a little tougher to explain,” Torre conceded. “He knows everything he needs to do. It’s a matter of being committed to it.”

Torre is right. It is tough to explain because I’m still trying to spin my head around that.

Nonetheless Torre does feel some comfort in knowing there are other starters in the wings able to pick up the slack.

“With [Jon] Garland and [Vicente]Padilla, their addition has given us experience,” Torre said. “It’s really helped us escape the free fall in that regard that we have guys out there that haven’t done this before.”

Garland in two starts has a 1-0 record and has given up five earned runs in 13 innings pitched. Padilla is 3-0 in four starts and has given up five earned runs in 22 1/3 innings pitched.

As much as Dodger fans want Billingsley to be the dominating force he was earlier in the season, there are plenty of other arms to take up the slack. Even with the playoffs looming close by, Torre hasn’t even begun to think of potential starters for the playoff rotation.

“No, not yet,” Torre answered sternly when asked if he’s thought about a playoff rotation.

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So how do you solve a problem like Billingsley? How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

Pittsburgh Pirates

  1. Andrew McCutchen, CF
  2. Andy LaRoche, 3B
  3. Garrett Jones, 1B
  4. Ryan Doumit, C
  5. Lastings Milledge, LF
  6. Brandon Moss, RF
  7. Ronny Cedeno, SS
  8. Ramon Vazquez, 2B
  9. Daniel McCutchen, P

LA Dodgers

  1. Rafael Furcal, SS
  2. Matt Kemp, CF
  3. Andre Ethier, RF
  4. Manny Ramirez, LF
  5. James Loney, 1B
  6. Casey Blake, 3B
  7. Russell Martin, C
  8. Orlando Hudson, 2B
  9. Jon Garland, P
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