At the midpoint of the 2009 season, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley was considered by many to be the ace of the Dodgers’ starting rotation, and was named as a member of the National League All-Star team with a win/loss record of 9-4 and an Earned Run Average of 3.38. The Dodgers’ record at the break stood at 56-32—the best in all of Major League Baseball at that point. In his starts following the All-Star break, Billingsley went 3-7 with an ERA of 5.20, and allowed a .271 total batting average in the second half of the season versus .227 for opposing batters in the half prior to the break. The Dodgers record following the break stood a mere 4 games above .500—at a record of 39-35—as they finished the season with only a three-game lead in the National League West division standings over the Colorado Rockies.
Although it would certainly be unreasonable to blame Billingsley’s performance alone for the Dodgers’ second-half slide or for their second consecutive 4-1 NLCS series loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, there does appear to be a strong reflection within his second half performance woes of a greater problem with the Dodgers’ consistency over the course of the season. Although the Dodgers still managed to achieve the top record in the National League and in turn earned home field advantage throughout the 2009 National League playoff series, their shaky performance and lack of consistency in the second half carried over into the playoffs, and became glaringly evident as the Philadelphia Phillies put the Dodgers away quickly in the NLCS in a fashion all too similar to the previous season.
Especially considering that the Dodgers’ starting rotation for 2010 will lean heavily upon Billingsley as well as 22 year-old All-Star caliber starter Clayton Kershaw, consistency will be crucial not only in allowing the Dodgers to make another bid for a World Series run this season, but in giving the team steady momentum heading into the playoffs—a time at which consistency will be as necessary as at any other point in the season—regardless of whether or not the Dodgers achieve the best record in the regular season, or attain home field advantage in the playoffs.