Los Angeles Dodgers young right-hander Walker Buehler made his long-awaited 2019 Cactus League debut on Tuesday night, reminding why he is the future, if not current ace of the pitching staff.
Facing the Cleveland Indians, Buehler looked a bit rusty at first, which was to be expected for someone who hadn’t pitched in a game since last October. He allowed back-to-back singles to begin the game but then got three straight outs to strand both runners.
The plan was for Buehler to throw three innings and around 45 pitches, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts stuck to that as he removed Buehler after giving up a single with two outs in the third on his 46th pitch of the night.
That runner eventually came around to score, so Buehler was charged with one earned run in 2.2 innings of work, allowing three hits while striking out two.
After the game, Buehler seemed pleased with how the outing went and voiced confidence that he will be ready for the start of the regular season, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“Yeah, at some point you’ve got to be ready to go. I’ll be fine,” he said. “I told you guys a while back — once I’m kind of going, I’m going. As long as I get the feel, I think I’ll be fine. Tonight I was a little all over the place, but it’ll get better. First time things speed up a little. Made some good pitches and some bad ones. I felt good and the ball was coming out of my hand good.”
Buehler is expected to have one more spring outing during the exhibition Freeway Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to continue to build up his pitch count before likely making his regular-season debut sometime during Opening Week.
Unlike Clayton Kershaw, Roberts has said that there are no plans for Buehler to begin the season on the injured list.