One of the few shining moments from the Los Angeles Dodgers losing a seventh consecutive game was Walker Buehler making his MLB debut in the eighth inning. The organization’s top pitching prospect struck out two and faced one over the minimum in two shutout shutout innings.
“It’s a little mixed emotions,” Buehler said postgame. “You lose a game, but it was a special night for me.” He officially joined the Dodgers on Wednesday, and had several family members in attendance for his first time taking the mound in a Major League game.
That Buehler didn’t pitch on the day he was called up may have served as a benefit. There were expected nerves but the scene didn’t overwhelm the 23-year-old.
“It’s a big stadium, but I felt pretty calm,” Buehler said. “I felt less nervous than I anticipated.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who had previously heralded Buehler as “ultra talented and ultra competitive,” had his perception of the rookie reaffirmed with Thursday’s appearance. “The presence, command of all of his pitches, it just looked right,” Roberts said.
When asked which pitcher whom Buehler reminded him of, Roberts pointed to a two-time Cy Young Award winner. “I don’t know if he likes the comp, but I played with this young kid in San Francisco when he came up, in Tim Lincecum,” Roberts said.
“He’s bigger than Tim, but as far as the body type, the wiry strength, athleticism, poise on the mound and just pure stuff, very comparable for me.”
It’s believed Buehler has an opportunity to pitch his way onto the Dodgers playoff roster should he impress over the final month of the regular season. That’s hardly a focus of his, however, and neither is keeping the ball from his first MLB strikeout.
“He’s a big memorabilia guy,” said Buehler of his father. “So he’ll get that one.”