One of the few bright spots this season for the Los Angeles Dodgers has been the emergence of Walker Buehler. He’s in his second full year since undergoing Tommy John surgery weeks after the Dodgers selected him No. 24 overall in the 2015 Draft.
Still being cautions with their top pitching prospect, the Dodgers limited Buehler’s workload and optioned him to Triple-A Oklahoma City at the start of the season. There wasn’t any question whether or not Buehler would contribute at the Major League level, it was a matter of when.
With an innings limit in place, the Dodgers appeared poised to delay his arrival so as to ensure the right-hander would be capable of contributing down the stretch of the season. But all the planning was thrown by the wayside due to injuries.
Buehler was promoted April 23, and he’s either been optioned to High-A Rancho Cucamonga in nothing more than a paper move, or remained in the starting rotation.
Thursday’s start against the Cincinnati Reds was Buehler’s fourth this season. Still in the early stages of his career, the 23-year-old is already developing more confidence, via SportsNet LA:
“You kind of realize you don’t have to be as perfect but then saying that, you make one bad pitch in the sixth inning and give up two runs. I’m getting more confident in the fact that I can get guys out here, but I’ve still got to be pretty fine in certain situations.”
Buehler was in the midst of breezing through a stellar outing before Joey Votto’s two-out single in the sixth inning was followed by Scooter Gennett’s two-run double that gave the Reds a lead they never lost.
Prior to allowing a single to Jesse Winker with one out in the sixth, Buehler had retired 14 consecutive batters and was working on a shutout. Despite the night ending in disappointment, he tied a career high with eight strikeouts.
Buehler is now 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA, 1.66 FIP, 1.00 WHIP, and 27 strikeouts against seven walks over 22 innings pitched for the Dodgers. President of baseball operations Andrew Friemdan indicated Buehler will remain part of the rotation until he shows sign of fatigue.