Dodgers News: Now A Relief Pitcher, Walker Buehler Focused On Greater Attention To Detail

In his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery, Walker Buehler has gone through a whirlwind campaign. He began the year with High-A Rancho Cucamonga, spent time with Double-A Tulsa, then Triple-A Oklahoma City before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.

The quick rise didn’t come as a complete surprise, as there were indications during the spring that the Dodgers viewed their 2015 first-round pick as a potential call-up once active rosters expanded. As such, Buehler pitched out of the bullpen for Oklahoma City after making three starts.

It’s a role he’ll hold with the Dodgers and one that may earn the right-hander a spot on the playoff roster. A starting pitcher by trade, working as a reliever has required Buehler to make adjustments.

He explained the most notable of which has been in mentality and need for greater focus, via J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group:

“The 0-0 fastball on your first pitch of the game, typically it’s a given. It’s not. Your attention to detail has to be higher in the bullpen so that when you do get out there you’re all ready to go. … There’s this whole, ‘You can have a rough first (inning) and find yourself’ – that doesn’t work in the bullpen.”

In his first relief appearance this season, Buehler allowed three runs on two hits, walked one, hit a batter and struck out two in 1.1 innings.

Over eight ensuing relief appearance for Oklahoma City, he recorded one save, yielded a 3.00 ERA and struck out 17 against four walks in 12 innings. Opponents batted .239/.300/.261 during that span.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has praised Buehler for his confidence, competitiveness and talent. He’s hopeful to get the organization’s Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year into a low-leverage situation for his MLB debut.