Since assuming a larger role in the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation last season, Walker Buehler has regularly provided tantalizing glimpses at his capability.
Buehler got off to a bit of a slow start this season due to an abbreviated Spring Training, but he’s found a rhythm as the year’s gone on. A recent example was Buehler recording 11 strikeouts over seven shutout innings against the Miami Marlins.
Among those to take notice of the right-hander’s success is A.J. Pollock. “Honestly, everyone in the clubhouse has already known that for a while,” Pollock answered when asked if Buehler is developing a reputation as an elite pitcher.
“He’s just a competitor. He’s got good stuff, goes out there and competes, great tempo. He’s fun to play behind. We all know what he’s capable of.”
The Dodgers signed Pollock to a four-year contract this offseason after he spent the last seven seasons often faring well agains them as a member of the division-rival Arizona Diamondbacks.
While Pollock had a lot of success against Dodgers pitchers, he only went 1-for-4 with a walk in five career plate appearances against Buehler. He admitted to being happy that he no longer has to face him now that they are teammates.
“He’s a guy when you face him, guys in the locker room are talking about him,” Pollock said. “He’s just got such an electric fastball; his fastball feels like it speeds up over the plate. He’s a nightmare to face, for sure. Glad I’m on this side now and get to enjoy it from a better perspective.”
With Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu each producing an All-Star season, the Dodgers boast one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball.
It’s no secret that Kershaw has a lot of mileage on his arm at 31 years of age though, so the last two seasons have sort of served as a changing of the guard. Buehler appeared likely to ascend into the role, though it’s been taken by Ryu this year.
In 20 starts thus far, Buehler is 9-2 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.