Dodgers News: Walker Buehler Believes Rookie Season Was Valuable Learning Experience
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

After making his MLB debut as a September callup during the 2017 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers expected Walker Buehler to fill a larger role for the club this year. However, being that it was his first full season in the Majors, an innings limit was in place.

Buehler started the first game of the year for Triple-A Oklahoma City, then was called up for a spot start just over three weeks later. While there were paper moves that saw Buehler optioned to the Minors, he essentially remained a mainstay in the Dodgers rotation.

Buehler was putting together an impressive rookie campaign before it was interrupted by a microfracture suffered in his right ribs. The injury sidelined Buehler for multiple weeks and essentially was a means of limiting his workload.

As Buehler found a rhythm upon re-joining the rotation in mid-July, he emerged as one of the Dodgers’ top starters. The club entrusted him with big moments, including pitching in Game 163 to decide the National League West.

Buehler went on to be named a finalist for NL Rookie of the Year, which was won by Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. Despite finishing in third place for the award, Buehler was honored to be part of the select group and believes his experiences in 2018 will be beneficial moving forward, via SportsNet LA:

“Obviously, it’s pretty special. Those two guys are unbelievable. It was a good year for everybody, and I was happy we got to be playing at the end. … I’m kind of learning what it means to play almost 162 games, so next year I’ll be a little more prepared and hopefully go out and do pretty much what we did this year.”

Buehler finished the season 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 151 strikeouts over 137.1 innings pitched across 25 games (24 starts). He led all rookies in ERA, FIP (3.04) and batting average against (.193).

The performance led to many deeming Buehler the new ace of the Dodgers staff, but he’s dismissed that notion and was thrilled at news of Clayton Kershaw coming to terms with the team on a three-year contract extension.

The two figure to be part of a deep rotation in 2019, as Hyun-Jin Ryu is returning after accepting the qualifying offer. In addition, the Dodgers have Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling, Alex Wood and Julio Urias among the options to fill out the rotation.