Looking to complete a three-game sweep over the Colorado Rockies to take control of the National League West, the Los Angeles Dodgers did not get off to a good start on Wednesday night.
The first three Rockies hitters reached against Walker Buehler on a single, walk and error in the top of the first inning. Ian Desmond then came up with a two-out single to drive in two runs and give Colorado an early lead.
Buehler threw 36 pitches in that first inning, but the rookie rebounded from there and turned in one of his best outings of the season to help the Dodgers earn a 5-2 victory and sweep over their biggest competition to win the National League West.
Buehler threw just 65 pitches and gave up just one hit across his final five innings, resulting in a six-inning outing in which he allowed three hits, two runs (none earned) while striking out a career-high 12 batters compared to one walk.
After the game, Buehler discussed why he struggled in that first inning and how he was able to settle in and toss another gem to lead his team to another big victory, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“I think what kind of happened in the first inning was I ran the ball a little bit. It can sometimes help you in a way, that kind of effective wildness. Kind of got settled back in, made some pitches to conserve pitch count, got some quick ones. … Just slowed down a little bit. Big games, division games, Colorado has played well against us. I’ve pitched in some big games but the later you get in the year the bigger it all feels. I’ll learn from it and move forward.”
Buehler was the top prospect in the organization going into this season, but no one could have predicted that he would be this good, this quick.
In 22 games (21 starts) this season, Buehler is 7-5 with a 2.74 ERA, 3.00 FIP and 0.98 WHIP. He has struck out 143 and walked 32 in 124.2 innings of work. He would have a 2.40 ERA if it were not for his one relief appearance in which he gave up five runs when he probably should have been making a Minor League rehab start instead.
Along with Clayton Kershaw, Buehler has established himself as a second ace for the Dodgers and it looks like that is going to remain the case for many years to come.