Dodgers News: Walker Buehler Unveiled New Windup In Rehab Start

Walker Buehler began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday, collecting two strikeouts over two innings pitched and touching 96.1 mph with his fastball velocity.

It was another encouraging development for Buehler in his first game action since June 10, 2022. He’s set a goal of returning to the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation this season and although the September 1 target has passed, the right-hander conceivably could be activated in roughly two weeks.

In addition to the results from the rehab start and not experiencing any setbacks the following day, Buehler unveiled a new windup. Buehler’s delivery no longer entails raising both arms over his head and instead he keeps the ball near the waist before beginning to stride toward home plate.

When recently discussing the recovery process from a right flexor tendon repair and second Tommy John surgery, Buehler mentioned his delivery was among the areas being examined. The 29-year-old surmised if he needed a second elbow reconstruction surgery that perhaps his delivery was partly to blame.

Such a belief and willingness to change is not surprising when considering Buehler has long been a forward-thinker and open to adjustments.

As for potentially returning to the Dodgers, manager Dave Roberts said Buehler would first need to make at least three starts on his rehab assignment.

That Buehler is even in the conversation to come off the 60-day injured list this year initially was a surprise to Roberts.

“I’m shocked. But in that same breath, guys like Walker are just different,” Roberts recently said. “They’re wired and mentally different, physically they’re just freaks of nature. So you can’t discount that.

“I was surprised that he put it in the universe he was going to be back (in 2023), but I’m going to bet on him.”

Buehler went 6-3 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 12 starts prior to missing the remainder of the 2022 season. He faces a final year of salary arbitration before potentially becoming a free agent after the 2024 season.

Differences with Walker Buehler’s Tommy John surgeries

Although Buehler has twice had Tommy John since being drafted by the Dodgers in 2015, the second operation differed from the first.

“I think one weird thing about my surgery was it wasn’t necessarily another tear,” Buehler explained. “I had a kind of piece of bone from an old kind of injury that broke off and went into my ligament, so they had to cut that out. But nothing tore again, it wasn’t like I threw and it ripped out. So essentially, it wasn’t a full Tommy John.

“It was a reconstruction was all medically what they would say, but I don’t think it technically was as detrimental to like the long-term health of my elbow. So I guess it’s kind of reflected in the fact that most Tommy John’s are 14-18 month rehabs and some guys, their first Tommy John they’re waiting 14-18 months and I feel very comfortable trying to come back in 12 months on my second one.

“So I guess the stuff behind the scenes or the way it’s been explained to me, it kind of gives me some comfort in trying to do that.”

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