The Los Angeles Dodgers slugged their way to a 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, and although Walker Buehler struggled the first time through the lineup, he made an adjustment and cruised through six innings.
After allowing three hits with over a 100 mph exit velocity in the first inning on either his four-seam fastball or cutter, Buehler began to mix in more curveballs, sliders and a few changeups.
He retired 11 straight batters before yielding a walk with two outs in the fifth inning.
“We’re getting closer. I just want to get back to being myself. Definitely a little bit better bullpen and had some better throws in there tonight, so we’re inching towards it.”
On the season Buehler is now 6-1 with a 2.91 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 52.2 innings pitched. He is also allowing a .277 batting average to opposing hitters, an .080 point jump from last season.
Although it doesn’t look as polished and dominant as Buehler’s starts have been in the past, he is continuing to pitch through whatever hurdles emerge. Buehler’s 3.18 FIP is nearly identical to 2021, and over the course of the season, has largely managed to limit hard contact.
How has Walker Buehler adjusted pitch mix?
Since coming into the league full-time in 2018, Buehler has been known for his power four-seam fastball and ability to throw that pitch when he’s needed it most.
From 2018-2021, Buehler has held opposing hitters to under a .205 batting average on his four-seamer, but this season has watched that number explode to a whopping .365 average against. His spin rates have dropped across the board as well, and because of his four-seam ineffectiveness, has resorted to increasing his cutter usage by 10%.
Tuesday’s game showed how mixing in more secondary pitches can keep hitters off balance. Buehler’s curveball (.156 batting average allowed), slider (.130) and changeup (.150) have all been plus-pitches and should see an uptick in usage until better results come with the fastball.
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