In the hours leading up to first pitch of Game 3 of the National League Division Series, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the team had not decided on a starting pitcher for the following night but that Tony Gonsolin figured to play a pivotal role.
The Dodgers then went out and squandered a stellar performance by Max Scherzer — losing for the first time in his 13 starts for the team and falling to the brink of elimination against the San Francisco Giants.
Roberts said after the loss that all options were on the table for Game 4, including Walker Buehler potentially starting on short rest for the first time in his career. The seemingly inevitable was then announced Tuesday afternoon.
“Walker actually brought it up to us, and we were late in kind of deciding because we wanted to make sure he woke up feeling good,” Roberts explained. “So I think once he came and felt good, it was a no-brainer.”
Buehler was sharp early and wound up logging 4.1 innings on three days’ rest. He was charged for a run upon exiting as the Giants scored on a groundout induced by Joe Kelly with the bases loaded.
While the Dodgers needed a final look at Buehler prior to formalizing their decision, the right-hander didn’t see any other possibility.
“To be completely honest, there probably wasn’t anything that could have been going on that I would have told him that I didn’t want the ball,” Buehler said after the Dodgers’ win. “So as long as I could walk into the clubhouse, I think I was going to pitch.
“So it kind of is what it is, but it worked out. I felt really good and we’ll get in there with our medical staff and take care of it and get ready for the next one, hopefully.”
Buehler didn’t feel fatigued
Naturally, one of the more prevalent challenges for a starter pitching on short rest is fatigue, but that was not much of an issue for Buehler.
“I physically felt really good,” he said. “We’ll see how that holds [Wednesday]. But elimination game and having been here a little bit, I wanted the ball and I feel good about what I did. I wish I could have gotten a little bit deeper, but that’s part of it and we have the talent and the guys in the backend of the bullpen to cover it.
“Really good team win for us and fun to watch those guys close it out at the end.”
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