Not since Zack Greinke have the Los Angeles Dodgers have a bonafide right-hander who could complement Clayton Kershaw in the starting rotation. But with each outing, Walker Buehler has begun to assume that role.
Coming off a stellar performance in which he held the Seattle Mariners to one run and matched a career high with eight strikeouts in six innings, Buehler improved on that against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Looking to do his part in helping the Dodgers avoid being swept, Buehler turned in seven shutout innings. He scattered three hits, issued two walks and finished with a career-high nine strikeouts.
Buehler was removed at 104 pitches, and considering how the game unfolded, led to some frustration for him but ultimately an understanding of manager Dave Roberts’ decision, per Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times
“He makes the decisions, and I live with them,” Buehler said. “At the time, it doesn’t make you very happy, but I get it, certainly: 104 pitches. It’s kind of hard to send me back out there after 100.”
Scott Alexander was the first Dodgers reliever to enter the game, and he allowed a game-tying solo home run to Tyler O’Neill. While the natural inclination is to chalk that up to more of the same from the Dodgers bullpen, Alexander’s sinker was well-placed — low and away.
The same could not be said for Kenley Jansen, who left a cutter without much movement out over the plate. The result was Paul DeJong giving the Cardinals a decided 3-1 lead with his two-run home run in the ninth.
It was the third homer Jansen surrendered through 1.1 innings pitched since coming off the disabled list. He attributed that to searching for a feel with his cutter.
As for Buehler, he lowered his ERA to 2.96 and became the first Dodgers right-hander since Hideo Nomo in 1995 to record at least 35 strikeouts while allowing fewer than five runs over a five-start span.