When Billingsley's season was effectively ended with an elbow injury in August, he had won six consecutive decisions.
Now, despite the ability to throw a simulated game in late October, the chances of his immediate return in 2013 are not certain.
While the team's hope is that he can come back fully healthy, here are three reasons that they shouldn't count on Billinglsey's immediate return to the rotation.
Chad Billingsley was extremely productive at the time of his injury.
While the initial prognosis and recovery timeline sees a 2013 return as a distinct possibility, elbows are nothing to mess around with for pitchers. Billingsley has had trouble with that same elbow before, making this injury even more so of a concern.
"It seems to be the same thing as it was before, but still it’s hard to tell, it’s so early,” Billingsley told Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times, "It just happened. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow."
Even though Billingsley may avoid surgery, the history of elbow problems is worth keeping an eye on. The Dodgers do not want it to be a consistent concern for Billingsley moving forward, so they will certainly take every precaution necessary.
The Dodgers hope that Josh Beckett can return to his past success.
The current rotation is filled with both veteran pitchers, and of course, their young ace in Clayton Kershaw. While the Dodgers' rotation as a unit may have underachieved as of late, they certainly have the ability to get the job done in any necessary absence in Billinglsey's recovery.
The remaining possibility of Josh Beckett returning to his form of old in his first full season with the Dodgers would make the rotation that much stronger moving forward.
If necessary, the club does have several prospects that could fight for the final spot in the rotation, including the likes of top prospect Zach Lee.
Still just 21 years old, Lee's climb up the organizational ranks has been a quick one. It is just a matter of time before he gets his chances in the big leagues, and an extended recovery from injury for Billinglsey might very well be that situation.
With the options and talent that the Dodgers do have in the starting pitching department, they should certainly make even more of a point of taking their time with Billingsley's recovery timeline.
Zack Greinke tops the list of free agent pitchers.
Again, while Billingsley has his spot in the rotation locked up upon his return, the Dodgers are capable of filling the void for the time being.
As many writers around the country are speculating, the Dodgers could be a realistic player on the free agent market for one of the very talented available starting pitchers. With the seemingly endless payroll that they have, it is always a realistic possibility.
This year's crop of free agent starting pitchers features the likes of Zack Greinke, Kyle Lohse, Jake Peavy, Edwin Jackson, Brandon McCarthy, Ryan Dempster and Shaun Marcum, to name a few.
Any of these pitches could realistically end up in Dodger blue, giving them a necessary boost both if Billingsley can or can not return right away.
As the Dodgers have long proven, they are willing to spend the money to acquire any player that they want.