Friday, October 03, 2008

The Best Pitcher You Probably Haven't Heard Of...


It's not often you can pitch for a team with a storied pitching history in the second largest media market in the country and fly under the radar. It's not often you can post a 3.14 ERA and be the best pitcher on a division championship team and receive little to no recognition. Usually when you finish 7th in the league in ERA, 5th best in ERA+ and 5th in the league in strikeouts while pitching for a 1st place team you end up being a household name in a hurry... Unless your name happens to be Chad Billingsley of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He might be the best pitcher that casual baseball fans have never heard of. In the lead up to the Cubs-Dodgers NLDS matchup there was lots of talk about Manny, and how well Derek Lowe had pitched down the stretch. There was talk of the Cubs deep rotation and concern about the health of Zambrano and Harden... But almost no mention of the best pitcher on the Dodgers staff. Chad Billingsley. Yes, Lowe got the Game 1 start and most of the hype, but that was largely due to his previous post-season experience. Don't fool yourself, it was Billingsley that carried this pitching staff and put the team on his back at times. Just 24 years old and having just completeted his first full season as a regular starting pitcher, he is already the ace of a team that built it's reputation with the likes of Koufax, Drysdale and Sutton.

That might have all changed Thursday night as Billingsley made his first post-season start. On the road in a tense Wrigley Field, he took the ball and was nothing short of sensational. He allowed just one earned run in 6 2/3 IP and struck out 7 while facing the best offensive team in the National League. His performance, along with a series of defensive miscues by the Cubs infield, helped the Dodgers take a 2-0 lead over the heavily favored Cubs and maybe, just maybe will help Billingsley get the type of recognition his performance on the field deserves...

It's about time......

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