Chad Billingsley May Be the Key to Dodgers NL West Hopes

Mike GliddonCorrespondent IApril 9, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 27:  Chad Billingsley of the Los Angeles Dodgers poses during media photo day on February 27, 2010 at the Ballpark at Camelback Ranch, in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be the perfect mix of youth and veteran players on paper. With great young talent in Matt Kemp, Andre Either, and Clayton Kershaw, and solid veteran leadership from Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal, this team is set for another run at that elusive National League Championship. That is, if they can make the playoffs.

The opening series against the Pittsburgh Pirates may be an eye-opener for the Dodgers. Sure, this was the first series and there is still a lot of baseball to be played (159 games for those of you who are counting), but the player who must produce this year seems to be evident.

In steps Chad Billingsley.

Billingsley has put up solid numbers in his first four years with the Dodgers. He has a career ERA of 3.55 and has won 47 games to just 30 loses. He also threw fairly good in his first outing this year, striking out seven and allowing just one run over five-plus innings.

The one stat that jumps out a little would be his four walks. The control appeared to come and go as he struggled with location through his first appearance. This must be fixed.

A reason the Dodgers struggled towards the end of last year and in their series with the Phillies was the lack of a true No. 2 pitcher.

Randy Wolf was there last year and pitched with a lot of heart, but he is gone now. Can Joe Torre really trust the arm of Vicente Padilla, a guy who was cast away by the Rangers and picked up to fill a rotation spot? He is a good pitcher, but not No. 2 worthy.

Billingsley must step up for the Dodgers to stand a chance against the Phillies and Cardinals stacked pitching decks. The offense will be there and Kershaw can be a stud pitcher, but Billingsley will have to keep on track and pitch an entire season for the Dodgers to have a fighting chance.