Mattingly doesn’t expect Billingsley to return this season.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Tuesday that he is preparing as if Chad Billingsley will not return to pitch this season, either as a starter or a reliever.

“There’s really no time,” Mattingly said. “He just runs out of time. His chances are pretty far down at this point.”

Although that assessment is not coming out of nowhere, it’s the most grim outlook the manager has provided since Billingsley left his Aug. 24 start against Miami with pain in his right elbow. The pain hasn’t gone away, despite Billingsley receiving a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection last week. He is scheduled to have another injection tomorrow.

“I think he’s been feeling a little better lately,” Mattingly said. “We’re not talking about surgery or anything at this point.”

Billingsley was 6-0 with a 1.30 earned-run average in six starts before his fateful start against the Marlins. He is guaranteed 10 wins (10-9) for a sixth straight season, something only Cole Hamels has done among active National League pitchers.

The right-hander’s final numbers this season have been respectable on the whole –a 3.55 ERA, with a career-best 2.84 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Inconsistency remained his Achilles’ heel, however: In 10 wins, Billingsley had a 1.16 ERA and a microscopic 0.843 WHIP. In nine losses, those numbers ballooned to 6.89 and 1.717 respectively.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.