2022 Los Angeles Dodgers Player Reviews: Walker Buehler

Walker Buehler was in the midst of an uncharacteristic season when he was placed on the 15-day injured list in June due to a right forearm strain.

The roster move came one day after Buehler pitched just four innings against the San Francisco Giants. He was removed from the outing at Oracle Park due to feeling pain in his right elbow/forearm that Buehler classified as feeling different from the discomfort leading up to his first Tommy John surgery before being drafted.

Buehler and the Dodgers were initially optimistic he would avoid needing the operation once again, but that didn’t hold true as he underwent a second Tommy John surgery in August. That ended Buehler’s season and has his availability in 2023 facing plenty of doubt.

Prior to Tommy John, Buehler underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow. The procedure was not expected to impact his timeline as the recovery for the operation fell within the same timeframe as the initial forearm strain injury.

“It was something that I’ve dealt with for a long time, and given that rest and rehab was 10 to 12 weeks, and having the spur removed was 10 to 12 weeks, as a group we decided to just go ahead and get it done,” Buehler said in June.

“It’s something I was going to do in the offseason, probably we’ve discussed for the last three years to get those taken out, but ended every year healthy and kind of didn’t have the necessity to do it.

“Decided to be a little bit aggressive and go ahead and get that out of there. The timeline doesn’t really change a whole lot by doing that, and kind of kill two birds with one stone. So yeah, we’ll take six weeks, see where we’re at and then build up.”

Before the injury, Buehler went just 6-3 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.29 WHIP across 12 starts. His strikeout rate was noticeably down, but Buehler finished with six in his final outing of 2022, tying for third-most in any start last year.

Walker Buehler 2022 highlight

After three subpar starts to begin the season, Buehler threw a complete-game shutout against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 25.

Buehler retired 15 consecutive batters from the fourth through the ninth inning en route to his first career shutout.

2023 outlook

Although not probable, Buehler and the Dodgers haven’t ruled out a potential return from Tommy John this year. What will first be sorted out is Buehler going through salary arbitration for a final time in his career.

In February 2021, the Dodgers signed Buehler to a two-year, $8 million contract to avoid arbitration.

Should the 28-year-old manage to pitch this season, he likely would not be stretched out to a full starter’s workload.

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