Chad Billingsley’s Surprise Elbow Strain

Surprise! I’m sore!” – Chad Billingsley’s Elbow

So Chad Billingsley‘s elbow is messed up, and he’s due for a second MRI on it today after the first MRI found a strain.

Chad Billingsley was scratched from his scheduled start for the Dodgers on Sunday with right elbow pain and said after the game that MRI results showed “flexor muscle and inflammation strain or whatever you want to call it.”

“As far as what they saw, I have to go back and get another [MRI] to get a little bit of a better view of it,” said an optimistic Billingsley, who will go back for testing again on Monday.

In reality though, Billingsley himself wasn’t all that surprised with the news since it’s apparently been bugging him for a month or, but it did surprise basically everybody else, including his own manager.

Manager Don Mattingly said Billingsley has been battling the pain for a while. Billingsley said he doesn’t know exactly when the pain started but said it has been a couple of weeks.

He had a regular bullpen session on Friday that wasn’t sharp, and after a shortened “touch-and-feel” session Saturday told trainer Sue Falsone that his elbow was “barky.” Mattingly got the information during Saturday night’s game.

“My only issue about it is not letting anybody know so we could be paying attention to this thing,” said Mattingly, who hopes to find out the MRI results by the end of the day. “Sue and those guys go to school a long time and they are pretty smart. They can’t really help you if you don’t talk to them.”

“They are not mind readers,” he added.

Why was it so surprising though? Basically because there were no clear indicators.

Billingsley’s 21.9 K% is his highest since 2008 and his 7.5 BB% is the lowest of his career. No regression in the month-to-month splits of those peripherals either. His fastball velocity was 92.29 in 2011 and it’s 92.51 in 2012, so no problems there. By month, his 2012 velocity is 92.21, 92.71, 92.59, and 92.49, so if it’s been a problem for weeks, it hasn’t shown up in his heat. Furthermore, his pitch selection has been consistent month-to-month as well, so there was basically no reason to suspect he was injured.

Part of the reason for that might be best explained in his own words:

Billingsley said once he starts throwing and it loosens up that he feels fine. He is hopeful he won’t be out for long.

“I thought I could have gone today, but they wanted to be cautious and not make it more worse of a situation than it is,” he said.

Seems promising that there are no ill effects after he gets loose, but not being able to get loose can go from bad to worse quickly.

Regardless of the outcome of the second MRI, he’ll probably need a stint on the DL, but how long he’s there will greatly affect how the Dodgers attack the trading deadline. Losing Billingsley for any significant length of time will likely result in an increased urgency for Ryan Dempster and the likes, which generally turns out worse than better.

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