04/24/10 6:43 PM ET
Billingsley, Olsen looking for rebound outings
By Bailey Stephens / MLB.com
They'd both like to see their effort on Sunday wipe away the memory of their last start.
When the Nationals and Dodgers meet in the rubber match of their three-game series, they'll be coming off a 13-inning Dodgers win that saw each team go deep into its bullpen, so a solid start will be key for both clubs.
In Billingsley's last start, he allowed seven runs (four earned) on six hits and lasted just three innings against the Reds. He also committed a throwing error that fueled a six-run inning for Cincinnati.
The young hurler carries a 1-0 record, but has been largely inconsistent with his command -- an issue that has also likely affected his confidence level.
"I think he's searching," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of Billingsley. "He wants the same thing we do. Unfortunately, a starting pitcher has the tendency to go one of two ways. Either you try not to get too excited, or you get over-prepared and get outside yourself and overthrow.
"He needs to be intense, without being tense. He needs to have that bumblebee inside, in a controlled manner. That's what Sandy [Koufax] talked to [Clayton] Kershaw about, using all your energy, but in the right way."Perhaps a trip to Washington will help Billingsley get back on track. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 3.04 ERA in four starts in his career against the Nationals.
Olsen is another young pitcher whose last start was forgettable. In two-plus innings, he allowed six runs on seven hits to the Rockies. The southpaw struggled to get his pitches down, which left him exposed to a tough Colorado lineup.
"Nothing good [happened ]," Olsen said. "I thought we were ahead on the count pretty well for the most part, but we couldn't make that final pitch to get the guys out. We just couldn't execute. We try to take the positives, which is the fact that we got ahead in the count a lot."
Dodgers: Haeger will remain fifth starter
Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, Friday night's starter, has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start this season. Haeger currently holds an 0-2 record, with a 6.46 ERA through three starts and a relief appearance. Friday night against the Nats, he allowed four runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings of work, among them two homers to Adam Dunn. Despite the slow start, Haeger will continue to pitch in the Dodgers' fifth spot, Torre said. "Right now, when you look at the final numbers, he kept us in the game," Torre said. "Yeah, I have no reason to change anything right now. He has some versatility. But until somebody pops up and shows something different, I have no plans to change."Nats: Zimmerman still doubtful
Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said it was doubtful third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will play on Sunday. Zimmerman, who has missed three games after tweaking his right hamstring Wednesday against the Rockies, has not run the bases since the injury but has taken batting practice the last two days. Riggleman said Zimmerman is available to pinch-hit, but if he hits a groundball or gets a bloop hit, they realize he cannot run hard around the bases.
Josh Willingham is likely hoping that he can break through against Billingsley, as he's never recorded a hit against the right-hander in 10 career plate appearances.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.