Reader Week: Chad Billingsley and Walks

Fantasy players are always looking for discounts on draft day and after a 12-11 season with a 4.03 ERA in 2009, Chad Billingsley represented one of those supposed discounts. In the two seasons prior to 2009, Billingsley posted ERA’s of 3.31 and 3.14 while eclipsing 200 strikeouts in 2008.
What was supposed to be a bounce back season has started off the complete opposite.

Walks have always been a slight problem for Billingsley. While his 2007 and 2008 ERA’s look fantastic, his WHIP has never ended below 1.32 for an entire season, keeping him out of the fantasy elite. In 2009, Billingsley posted a 3.94 BB/9, which was the highest walk rate of his young career. Things have been slightly worse this season. His BB/9 currently stands at 4.34.

Walks aren’t the only problem this season. Billingsley’s strikeouts are down as well. For three months last season Billingley ran into a similar strikeout drought (for his standards). From June through August, he did not post a K/9 above eight
Consistency has been Billingsley’s biggest enemy. There were only two months last season in which Billingsley posted an ERA over 4.00. However, those two months were particularly bad. In July he posted a 7.52 ERA and in September he posted a 5.16 ERA allowing 4.55 walks per nine innings.
Mechanical issues and conditioning have been named as problems. Such has clearly been the case early on in 2010. Billingsley has had games in which he looked like his old self, but more often things have unraveled at some point or another in most starts.
If there is any hope for future success it’s in the numbers.
Billingsley has only allowed a 16 percent line drive rate thus far, but his BABIP against is at .339. That’s quite high considering such a low line drive rate. He has also had a problem stranding baserunners. His strand rate stands at about 65 percent, down from his career average of 75.6 percent. League average in that category is around 70-72 percent. That too could turn in a positive direction soon.
There is a very good track record prior to 2009 for Billingsley, albeit a bit short. It’s easy to forget that he’s only 25-years-old. The pure “stuff” is still there. Velocity is the same if not a tick higher this season. It’s all about finding consistent, repeatable mechanics.
If I were looking to buy low on a pitcher, it would be Billingsley. He’s shown just how good he can be and is only a mechanical correction away from regaining his prior form. If you can get him on the cheap, now may be the time.