Chad Billingsley trying to avoid Tommy John surgery

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Chad Billingsley was ruled out for the season a while ago, but the Dodgers right-hander is trying to determine if he’ll need Tommy John elbow surgery and the 12-18 month recovery timetable that comes with it.

Billingsley has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, but was able to play catch regularly for the past week and Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports that he “now will ramp up to see if the ligament can withstand the rigors of pitching.”

Any hope that Billingsley can avoid going under the knife and continue to pitch effectively with a partially torn elbow ligament stems from his receiving two different platelet-rich plasma injections that are intended to aid the healing process.

After a very disappointing 2011 season Billingsley bounced back with a 3.55 ERA and 128/45 K/BB ratio in 150 innings before being shut down in late August. He’s under contract for $11 million next season and $12 million in 2014, with a $14 million option or $3 million buyout for 2015.

Gerrit Cole second-fastest to 200 strikeouts in a season

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Astros starter Gerrit Cole dominated the Athletics on Monday night, limiting them to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 11. It marked his 12th start out of 22 this season with double-digit strikeouts, giving him 205 total on the season.

It is no surprise, then, to hear that Cole is the second-fastest in baseball history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Cole got there in 133 1/3 innings. The only pitcher faster than Cole was Randy Johnson, who reached 200 K’s in 130 2/3 innings back in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Along with the 205 strikeouts, Cole holds an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA across 136 2/3 innings. Among qualified starters in the American League, only Charlie Morton (2.61), Mike Minor (2.86), José Berríos (2.96), and teammate Justin Verlander (2.99) have a better ERA than Cole, who has twice finished in the top-five in Cy Young Award voting.