Chad Billingsley’s elbow was the major concern coming into spring training, but it was a bruised right finger suffered during a bunting drill which put him on the disabled list to begin the season. However, after Billingsley it through a minor league rehab start on Thursday, Quinn Roberts of MLB.com reports that he has been cleared to come off the disabled list to start Wednesday against the Padres.
“It went well. I accomplished everything I needed to to get ready for my next start,” Billingsley said on Friday at Dodger Stadium. “I’ve got no issues with the finger. I’m anxious to get back out there, compete and win some ballgames.”
Billingsley, 28, posted a 3.55 ERA and 128/45 K/BB ratio in 149 2/3 innings over 25 starts last season before going down with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. After opting against surgery and receiving platelet-rich plasma injections during the offseason, he hasn’t had any issues this spring.
Who knows if Billingsley’s elbow will hold up for the entire season, but the Dodgers have plenty of starting pitching depth if there’s a setback. Veteran arms Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang are both in the bullpen at the moment while Ted Lilly is currently on a minor league rehab assignment following shoulder surgery.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.