In somewhat of a surprising move at the beginning of the week, the Los Angeles Dodgers optioned Walker Buehler to Minor League camp as part of their second round of Spring Training roster cuts. Manager Dave Roberts explained Friday the decision was what the Dodgers believed to be “best” for Buehler and the organization.
Buehler re-joined the team for a start against the Arizona Diamondbacks, marking his second appearance in a Cactus League game this year but his first time starting. He was scheduled to go two innings or throw 40 pitches, and the target was essentially met as Buehler tossed 38 pitches over two hitless innings.
“I liked to be a little more efficient, but I threw some really good pitches and ones that kind of make you shake your head a little bit,” he said from the clubhouse at Salt River Fields.
Of heading into a start knowing there limitations in place, Buehler said: “It’s definitely different but I think you approach the first two innings the exact same way, I guess.”
The Dodgers’ top pitching prospect faced a Diamondbacks lineup that featured a slew of regulars in David Peralta, A.J. Pollock, Paul Godlschmidt and Jake Lamb. “That’s their guys for the most part,” Buehler said. “It feels good not having great stuff and surviving two innings.”
Next for the 23-year-old is another start, but in what setting is unclear. “That’s above my pay grade. I’m not too worried about it. I’m 23 and I feel good with where I’m at and what I’m looking at trying to accomplish,” Buehler said.
“It’s not really my call. They put me on a five-day (schedule), so I’ll probably pitch in four or five days. Hopefully it all works out. The biggest thing is this team winning. If I’m a part of that, great. If not, we’ve got some good guys up there.”
Buehler has overcome the upper back issue that delayed his throwing program this spring and is focused on the intricacies of pitching. “I feel like I’ve thrown the ball pretty well. That’s all you can really ask for. I’m more worried about the ball coming out of my hand than anything,” he explained.
“Trying to make sure my mechanics feel right and that I can execute certain pitches in certain counts is big for me.”