Chad Billingsley turned in another ugly start yesterday, failing to make it out of the third inning against the Nationals, and has now allowed 24 runs in his last 31 innings.
During that six-start stretch Billingsley has nearly as many walks (18) as strikeouts (22) and has served up five homers. And he’s also shown decreased velocity, topping out in the low-90s.
Despite all that Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that “Billingsley insisted he isn’t hurt and manager Don Mattingly said there are no signs that anything is physically wrong.”
Instead the struggling right-hander told Hernandez that “his problem is mechanical” and he’s been working to correct the issues during bullpen sessions. Of course, Billingsley’s struggles actually date back much further than the past six starts. He finished May with a 3.46 ERA, but has a 4.96 ERA and 71/46 K/BB ratio in 96 innings since then.
Whether due to bad mechanics or arm problems, for a 27-year-old pitcher with excellent raw stuff who came into this season with a 3.55 career ERA and 2.1 strikeouts per walk that qualifies as more than just a simple slump.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen gave up three runs in the top of the ninth inning during Sunday’s game against the Braves, blowing his first save since August 26 last season. He had converted 34 consecutive saves.
Jansen yielded back-to-back singles to lead off the ninth inning, staked to a 4-1 lead. After getting two outs, Matt Adams hit a three-run home run down the right field line to knot the game at four apiece.
After Sunday’s lackluster performance, Jansen is now 24-for-25 in save chances this season with a 1.49 ERA and a 62/2 K/BB ratio in 42 1/3 innings.
Orioles closer Zach Britton finished Sunday’s 9-7 victory over the Astros with a scoreless ninth inning, earning his sixth save of the season. He has now earned the save in 55 consecutive opportunities dating back to September 2015, setting a new American League record. Tom Gordon previously held the record with 54 consecutive saves. Eric Gagne holds the major league record at 84.
Britton’s last blown save came on September 20, 2015, then converted two more saves before the end of the regular season. He went 47-for-47 in save chances last season and is six-for-six so far this year.
Along with his six saves, Britton has a 2.65 ERA and a 13/8 K/BB ratio in 17 innings this season. The lefty came off the disabled list earlier this month after missing two months with a strained left forearm.