Today was a big day for Chad Billingsley, as he made his first appearance since he was shut down last August with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Billingsley was roughed up by the Cubs in the first inning, allowing two doubles, a home run and a single to the four batters he faced, resulting in two runs crossing the plate. However, he settled down from there, giving up just one more hit over his two innings of work while striking out one and walking none.
Billingsley made it through the outing unscathed and told Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. that the shaky first inning was likely because he was too amped up for his first game action in six months.
“It’s good to be out there. In the first inning I had a lot of adrenalin. It seemed like forever since I last pitched in a game,” Billingsley said. “Today I had a little bit more adrenalin than usual for spring training. Just coming back it felt great to be out there competing in a game situation.”
For now, Billingsley is hopeful that a pair of platelet-rich plasma injections will be enough for his elbow to hold up to the rigors of the season. If he has any setbacks, he will likely face Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers at least have some rotation depth with Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang if that comes to pass, though both pitchers are also potential trade chips.
The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.
The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.
Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.
The matchups for Tuesday’s action:
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.
Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.
The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.