Thursday night was arguably the most important game of the season for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The result had no impact on the National League West or playoff standings, but it carried significant weight for Walker Buehler and his health.
Buehler been limited to just two starts in the month of September due to a blister issue, and facing the Oakland Athletics was a final tuneup before taking the mound in either Game 1 or 2 of the Wild Card Series next week.
Buehler looked as good as ever in his return from the 10-day injured list, tossing four shutout innings while allowing just one hit and collecting six strikeouts against one walk on 65 pitches in L.A.’s 5-1 win over the Oakland Athletics. The Dodgers received the best news they could’ve after the game as Buehler reported that he had no issues with the blister.
“No, not at all,” he answered when asked if it caused any trouble during the outing. “We figured some things out on how to treat it, and moving forward I hope it’s not a problem. I think we’ve got it down. The sim games helped, you can control it and learn how to navigate it.
“I felt good about how it came out of my hand and I’m excited to move forward.”
Someone who is very familiar with blister issues is Buehler’s former Dodgers teammate, Rich Hill, who memorably and frustratingly was saddled by trouble for a prolonged stretch. He served as a bit of a mentor to Buehler, who sought advice from the veteran.
“Any blister issue, I think Rich Hill is going to be one of the first people on the list,” Buehler said. “Rich and I were pretty close, and we did the charity event and all that this offseason, so I don’t think that was a far stretch to give Rich a call.
“We talked about the blister and some other things. He’s a great resource, he’s been around this game a long time, so he’s definitely a help.”
The Dodgers could very well face Hill down the line as the Minnesota Twins have clinched a spot in the postseason and will be one of the favorites from the American League to reach the World Series.
Roberts unsure of postseason rotation order
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has revealed that Buehler and Clayton Kershaw will start the first two games of the postseason. He hasn’t said in what order yet though, and again declined to do so after seeing how good Buehler looked on Thursday.
Kershaw is scheduled to pitch Friday night’s game against the L.A. Angels, so Roberts could finalize the order after that start. With Buehler pitching before Kershaw this week, it could be logical to keep it that way going into the postseason.
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