With the Los Angeles Dodgers in split-squad action for the first time this year, Walker Buehler was part of the travel roster that made the trek over to Salt River Fields for a matchup with the Colorado Rockies.
While gamesmanship can be a factor, there was not getting around Buehler’s 2020 Spring Training debut coming against a National League West opponent as the Dodgers hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch on Saturday as well.
So Buehler got to face a slew of of Rockies regulars in David Dahl, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, Ryan McMahon and Ian Desmond. He retired all six of them, completing two perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts.
After his successful Cactus League outing, Buehler reiterated a goal come the regular season is to reach 200 innings, according to Cary Osborne of Dodger Insider:
“I want to throw 200 innings — that was my goal last year, that’s my goal this year,” he said. “You have to pitch pretty good to get there. Two-hundred innings is my goal — always has been. Maybe if I do it (this year) I’ll change (my goal).”
Buehler first outlined his desire to reach that benchmark last February. But he had an abbreviated Spring Training due to minor arm trouble, making just one Cactus League start, and battling rust during the early stages of the 2019 regular season.
He authored two complete games, making history in the process, but finished the year at 182.1 innings pitched over 30 starts. Because the Dodgers’ had a shorter-than-expected postseason run, Buehler only tallied an additional 12.2 innings in October.
Last year only 15 pitchers reached 200 innings during the regular season. Although Buehler fell short of reaching his goal, he was second on the Dodgers — finishing one out shy of tying former teammate Hyun-Jin Ryu.
If Buehler is to reach his goal this season, it will be indicative of the 25-year-old remaining healthy and pitching deep into each of his starts. Both developments, of course, would be welcomed by the Dodgers.
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