One of the few bright spots for the Los Angeles Dodgers in what’s been a disappointing 2018 season thus far is Walker Buehler, the organization’s top pitching prospect. As planned, he began the year with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The Dodgers never outlined a specific plan but they openly said the expectation was for Buehler to contribute at the Major League level at some point. Injuries appeared to accelerate that, as the right-hander made his first career MLB start April 23 against the Miami Marlins.
Buehler was twice optioned to High-A Rancho Cucamonga in what was nothing more than a paper move between outings, and now has solidified a spot in the starting rotation. After a pair of back-to-back quality starts, he was on the mound to face the Marlins a second time.
Buehler failed to replicate that success, allowing the Marlins to score first, extend their lead in the third inning and create further separation in the fifth.
He didn’t factor into the decision because the Dodgers pulled even in the top of the sixth, only for Pedro Baez to allow the Marlins to take the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Buehler nonetheless wasn’t pleased with his performance, via Glenn Sattell on MLB.com:
“I gave up too many runs for us to win the game,” Buehler said. “I felt like I didn’t throw the ball well. The fact that we tied it up is encouraging, and I think it’s going to help us moving forward.”
Buehler nearly stranded Martin Prado’s leadoff single in the first inning but a two-out walk of Justin Bour led to Brian Anderson’s RBI single putting the game’s first run on the board. Prado reached on Chris Taylor’s error to start the bottom of the third and scored two batters later.
In the fifth inning, Buehler couldn’t put Bour away and wound up allowing a two-run home run on the seventh pitch of the at-bat. Miguel Rojas’ sacrifice fly brought in the Marlins’ fifth (fourth earned) run.
Buehler saw his ERA rise more than a full run but it still sits at a respectable 2.67 to go along with a 1.15 WHIP through six five this season. He personally is 2-1, while the Dodgers have lost Buehler’s last two starts after winning the first three.