The Los Angeles Dodgers have carefully managed their pitching staff and in particular the rotation to maximize the number of starts Walker Buehler, Max Scherzer and Julio Urias can make before the regular season concludes.
After going 13-2 with a 2.05 ERA over 27 starts through August, the right-hander hasn’t been his usual self in September. Buehler went just three innings against the San Francisco Giants at the beginning of the month, which was followed by two respectable starts but outings that fell short of the expectation he’s set.
Buehler then labored through another outing as he allowed five runs across 3.2 innings in a loss to the Colorado Rockies. The outing was his second-shortest of the season.
“I didn’t do my job. I think that’s the biggest thing. The team put me out to a lead and then I couldn’t protect it, then covered me up, and I came out of the game,” Buehler said. “My job is to set the tone and get us into the game, and I didn’t do that. That’s really all I got.”
As Buehler alluded to, the Dodgers spotted him a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning. However, he immediately coughed that up as the Rockies opened the bottom of the frame with five consecutive hits.
He nearly managed to keep the game tied but surrendered a two-run double to Germán Márquez with two outs. “I made some mistakes and they capitalized,” Buehler said.
“It is what it is. We face them a lot of times, and I think if you’re not sharp, they’re going to take advantage of you. They have some really talented guys over there and I didn’t do my job. I don’t know what else to say.”
Buehler didn’t factor into the decision but is 1-2 with a 7.32 ERA, 1.58 WHIP and .317 batting average against in four September starts.
“For me, it’s one of those things that I’m trying to get back to who I am and what I do,” Buehler said. “Obviously my past four haven’t been up up to what I want. I think going forward we’re going to try to figure it out and get ready to go.
“I think from a team perspective, it is what it is. But for me personally, obviously I want to be better and do better. … We’re actively trying to figure some things out. We’ve talked about this for a long time, I think tinkering and figuring things out is something I’ve always done. I just need to do that a little bit better.”
Buehler dismisses fatigue
With two more starts potentially on the horizon, Buehler already has set a career high with 195.2 innings pitched. Like with Julio Urias, the recent performance has raised the question of fatigue being a factor.
“I don’t know. I’ve been good in September, I think, previously. I don’t think the time of year or innings is something I’m going to blame what’s going on for,” Buehler said. “I think it’s a me problem, and something I need to address and figure out. We have a great team and a lot of guys that are really talented. I want to be a cog in that.
“I don’t necessarily need to be the only thing in that, I just want to fit in. Right now I’m not even doing that. I’ll address that and figure it out, then we’ll see what happens.”
That sentiment was echoed by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who offered, “I think all guys have some bit of fatigue right now, so I don’t think it’s his workload or anything like that. I think we’ve managed that really well as far as starts, off days and things like that.
“It’s about making pitches. I know Walker is not going to make any excuses. He’s got to continue to make quality pitches.”
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