Walker Buehler logged 176 innings in 2018, which was a career high and substantial workload in only his second full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery. That prompted the Los Angeles Dodgers took take a cautious approach with their right-hander in Spring Training last year.
That was further required because Buehler’s arm wasn’t feeling 100%, which he attributed to the season prior. Limited appearances in Cactus League play led to Buehler pitching through some rust during the early stages of the 2019 season.
It was about the only down point in what otherwise was an impressive campaign. Buehler put together historic performances and was handed the ball in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
While the year ended in disappointment for Buehler and the Dodgers, both face lofty expectations in 2020. Of course, first comes Spring Training, which Buehler went into after completing a new offseason throwing program that in some part was a byproduct of speaking with Max Scherzer, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“I didn’t take as much time off,” Buehler said Monday. “It’s becoming like a thing. I talked to Max Scherzer at the All-Star Game about it.”
“I feel fine, was throwing all right today,” Buehler said. “When you shut down, all this stuff has to stretch out again. The longer you take off, the tighter the hatch battens down.”
Buehler and Tony Gonsolin each threw live batting practice at Camelback Ranch on Monday, becoming the first Dodgers pitchers to do so this year.
That the 25-year-old would tinker with his offseason routine is hardly a surprise, considering he’s one of the more progressive and cerebral members of the pitching staff. Buehler has regularly explained he’s comfortable making adjustments in starts rather than solely during throwing or bullpen sessions.
Coming off a season in which he set new career highs in starts (30), innings pitched (182.1), was an All-Star for the first time and placed ninth in National League Cy Young Award voting, Buehler figures to split the staff ace title with Clayton Kershaw; if not take sole possession of the title.
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