When the Los Angeles Dodgers reported for the start of Spring Training, it was clear who the five members of their starting rotation were. Walker Buehler was included in that group, as he’s expected to assume a larger role after pitching under an innings limit in 2018.
The Dodgers nonetheless held Buehler back as other pitchers not named Clayton Kershaw forged ahead on a normal throwing program. Despite the two aces falling behind, manager Dave Roberts and each pitcher maintained there wasn’t cause for concern.
The Dodgers asserted Buehler was healthy and simply being slow-played as a means of protecting his young arm, while the club downplayed the shoulder trouble that forced Kershaw to be shut down for multiple days.
It since came to light Buehler wasn’t quite feeling 100 percent upon arriving at Camelback Ranch, but he again downplayed the matter. Despite the minor bump in the road, Buehler is scheduled to make his 2019 Cactus League debut early next week, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
Per #Dodgers Dave Roberts, next step for Walker Buehler will be to pitch in a Cactus League game either Monday or Tuesday
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) March 14, 2019
Should Buehler start Monday, he will face the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium. If he’s held until Tuesday, that means starting at Camelback Ranch against the Cleveland Indians.
Buehler recenly threw just his second bullpen of the spring, and on Wednesday advanced to his first live batting practice session. While time is running short, Buehler and Roberts have expressed confidence the right-hander will be prepared and available come Opening Day on March 28.