Chad Billingsley “insisted he isn’t hurt” after latest poor start

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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.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.