Clayton Kershaw may have stolen Chad Billingsley's title of Dodger Ace of the Very Near Future, but don't give up on Chadley just yet. From "Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley has the arm, is working on the head" by Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times:
He's a former All-Star who has won as many as 16 games in a season, but that doesn't seem enough. Not for someone with his arm.
Billingsley says he's aware that he's perceived that way, which is fine with him. He, too, thinks he can do better. What he doesn't want is for his soft-spoken demeanor to be interpreted as a sign that he's lacking something inside.
"You think I'm not trying to do it?" the right-hander asks. "I wish I could go out there and win 35 games, get shutouts, no-hitters."
He's reluctant to talk about his individual goals, but insists he has several.
"I want to win 20 games," he says. "I want to make it to the World Series. I have those goals that any pitcher has." [...]
Last year, he gave up six or more runs in four starts, including an April debacle in Cincinnati that earned him a summons to the office of then-manager Joe Torre. Despite that, he finished the season with a 12-11 record and 3.57 earned-run average.
Entering his sixth major league season but still only 26, Billingsley says he hasn't found ways to avoid these annual pitfalls.
"I haven't figured it out," he says. "This game is hard. If anyone figures it out, I want to know.
"It would be nice to put together a full good season. Six months of baseball? It's no easy task."
What's made Billingsley's bad stretches particularly troublesome is the difficultly he's had ending them.
After five seasons in the majors, Billingsley believes he has figured out why.
He says he thinks too much.
"The outcome of a game, what happens with a hitter, it's so complex," he says. "I don't know how to explain this...."
And when Billingsley doesn't get the results he wants, he tends to question himself. He says he wonders about his pitch selection. Or his game plan. Or his mechanics.
"Sometimes, I can get in my own head," he says.
Pretty honest, if
not un-jocklike, to admit to the mental pressures of the game. Dumb it down, Bills! It works for the rest of us!