Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler enjoyed a breakout campaign last year, thriving in the regular season before excelling in front of a national audience on baseball’s biggest stage.
In 24 games (23 starts), Buehler went 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA, 3.04 FIP and 0.96 WHIP over 137.1 innings pitched. Those efforts earned him a third-place finish in National League Rookie of the Year voting.
The 24-year-old followed up with an even better performance in the postseason, pitching to a 3.80 ERA and 0.85 WHIP over 23.2 innings (four starts). Included in that was a dominant outing over the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series, to which he logged seven shutout innings against MLB’s top-ranked offense.
When reflecting on his impressive 2018 season during an appearance on MLB Network Radio’s “Inside Pitch,” Buehler revealed a goal of his is to pitch 200 innings in a single year:
“The simple fact is I had one good year that I threw 137 regular-season innings, and that’s not the end goal. The end goal is to put up 200 innings. I may be a little old school in that, but that’s what I want to do and be successful for full seasons in the Major Leagues. Now it’s about repeating it and continuing to improve. We talked about Kersh, and you’ve got Scherzer, Verlander and all these guys that have done it for a long time at a high level. But it’s not always just the quality, it’s the quantity. They’ve continued to post (every five days). It’s impressive, and that’s what I think all of us young guys strive to do, regardless of kind of the new usage and new idea of a starting pitcher. I think at the end of the day you still want to go and start and finish games and put up big-time innings.”
Given Buehler’s competitive nature, it’s no surprise that he wants to evolve into a workhorse-type pitcher, similar to that of teammate Clayton Kershaw.
But with analytics playing a pivotal role in the current state of MLB, such pitchers will soon become a thing of the past, as teams rely more heavily on the construction of their bullpens.
Whether or not he’s able to achieve his goal in 2019, Buehler hopes to finds sustained success going forward, maintaining a similar mindset to that of his dominant rookie campaign.