If I were a young pitcher in my first real spring with the major league club I'd be pitching better then Billingsly. Everyone tells me that he's been given the four spot (perhaps three), but in a rotation full of right handed pitchers, if I were him, I'd make sure I wasn't the weakest one. Especially when two lefties behind me, not expected to crack the starters squad, and the two veterans competing for the five hole are pitching so well.
Esteban Loaiza, Chan Ho Park, Clayton Kershaw, and Hong-Chih Kuo are all having amazing springs with a combined ERA of 1.22 over 37 innings. Park is throwing the best, allowing no earned runs in 12 innings pitched and the front runner for the 5th spot Loaiza allowing four earned runs also over 12 innings.
Meanwhile the group of Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsly, Brad Penny and Hiroki Kuroda have combined for a whopping ERA of 5.73 over 50.1 innings with Billingsly skewing the curve with 11 earned runs over 13.1. In this group only Penny is pulling his weight, dominating the spring with a 0.90 ERA over three starts and ten innings.
Spring is a time when everyone is working out the kinks so ERA's are often inflated. Lowe (who was named after an Alaskan trout) for example, tends to have to find his rhythm before he's successful and while he hasn't found it so far I'm sure he'll be fine once the season starts. Kuroda, as a Japanese veteran is most likely the same. But, Billingsly in my opinion hasn't established himself and should be careful.
Loaiza has practically been given the number 5 spot, Kershaw will probably be sent back to the minors, and Kuo is most likely destined for the bullpen perhaps even to play a swing roll once arms fatigue to the point of minor injuries. Park on the other hand is signed only to a minor league contract (I never liked him out of the pen) but he's done a great job this spring. I doubt he'll be strong for an entire season at this stage in his career but I think he's definitely pitched well enough to deserve a good hard look to see where he fits into the big club, maybe even a spot once reserved for a promising youngster whose last name starts with B, ends with Y and looks like a Chad.