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.
The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that starter Shelby Miller has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation. Miller will get a second opinion on his elbow on Tuesday, per MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. Pitcher Silvino Bracho has been called up from Triple-A Reno to take Miller’s spot on the roster.
Miller, 26, left Sunday’s start with what was described at the time as forearm tightness. Through his first four starts, Miller is carrying a 4.09 ERA with a 20/12 K/BB ratio in 22 innings.
Bracho, 24, has pitched quite well in 6 2/3 innings of relief at Reno. He’s given up just one unearned run on four hits and a walk (intentional) with 12 strikeouts.
Archie Bradley figures to take Miller’s spot in the starting rotation as Bracho will work middle relief.
And John Lackey is livid.
The Brewers’ first baseman homered in each of his first two plate appearances against Reds starter Amir Garrett on Monday evening, helping his team to a 6-1 lead after two frames. The first was a solo blast in the first inning, and the second was a two-run shot to the opposite field in the second inning.
According to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, Thames has tied the Brewers’ record for home runs in April with 10. Carlos Lee also hit 10 homers in April 2006.
Seven of Thames’ 10 home runs have come against the Reds. Including his first two at-bats on Monday night, Thames is hitting .379/.474/.924 with 17 RBI along with the 10 dingers. Not too shabby from a guy the Brewers signed to a three-year, $16 million contract during the offseason.
Lackey and Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio both recently implied Thames is using performance-enhancing drugs, but Thames was tested immediately after last Monday’s game against the Cubs.