Whereas Clayton Kershaw has drawn endless comparisons to Los Angeles Dodgers icon Sandy Koufax, Walker Buehler has often been linked Pedro Martinez because of similarities in their body types and electric fastballs.
Martinez previously compared himself to Buehler, saying, “this kid is above and beyond where I was at the same age.” Martinez made his comments after Buehler started what ended as a combined no-hitter for the Dodgers in Mexico.
Similarities and differences Buehler has with Martinez was the topic of discussion when the right-hander joined former Dodgers teammate Ross Stripling on his “On The Bump” podcast.
Stripling asked Buehler how he can compare to Martinez despite throw a changeup, which was the Hall of Famer’s best pitch:
“I think where he and I comp is more the heater and the delivery more than anything,” Buehler said. “And I think a lot of times your delivery is going to lead directly to your fastball more than anything. I think some deliveries will put you in a spot where you can’t throw a certain pitch. Some guys with a lower arm slot have no chance of throwing a real curveball, or a real 12-6 curveball.”
Buehler and Martinez also touch the triple-digits with their fastball, which both relied on as their primary pitch. Buehler throws his fastball nearly half of all his pitches at 49%, while Martinez threw his fastball slightly more than half at 56% of the time:
“I know when I throw two-seamers, I get that kind of differentiating action between run and sink, or just run,” Buehler said. “I think the waistline is about for me where that kind of changes from sink below to run if it’s up. So his and I’s heaters play pretty similar that way, I imagine.”
Buehler, who throws his changeup about one time per game, shared his thoughts about why he struggles with the it, compared to Martinez being able to turn his into a devastating out pitch that he threw for almost 20% of the time:
“I think the difference is the flexibility of his arm, and his fingers and wrist, more specifically,” Buehler said. “I think allowed him to get that lag that allowed his changeup to come out of his hand the way it did.”
In his career, Buehler owns a 3.05 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 10 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.17 walks per nine in 443 innings of work. In 2,827.1 innings, Martinez pitched to a 2.93 ERA, 2.91 FIP, and averaged a 10.04 strikeouts and 2.42 walks per nine innings.
What truly sets them apart is from 1997 to 2003, Martinez went on arguably the most dominant stretch in history. As Stripling pointed out on the podcast, Martinez went 118-36 in those years with a 2.20 ERA, 11 strikeouts per nine, two walks per, a .198 batting average against, and led the league in ERA in five of those seasons.
Martinez also won three Cy Young Awards, two of them unanimously, and finished top three in the voting three other times.
Buehler, Martinez, linked by years
Martinez was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2015, the same year Buehler was drafted in the first round by the Dodgers.
Martinez also became a full-time starting pitcher in 1994, after the Dodgers traded him to the Montreal Expos. Halfway through that season, Buehler was born on July 28.
It can be presumed the Dodgers won’t make the mistake of moving on from Buehler.
Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and more!