Although Walker Buehler emerged as a key member of the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation in 2018 and should assume a larger role this season, the club has still cautiously handled him thus far in Spring Training.
As other pitchers in camp were throwing bullpen sessions and advancing to face batters, Buehler continued to be ‘slow-played.’ He expressed an understanding with the Dodgers electing to err on the side of caution, and maintained he will be prepared come Opening Day.
Buehler threw another bullpen session earlier this week, and on Saturday followed that up with live BP. He’s expected to throw another and then advance to starting a Cactus League game, per Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
He’s “champing at the bit, but understanding that there’s a process in place,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “So Walker understands the long view and just understanding that there’s a progression that needs to take place. And he’s on board.”
Roberts said that if all went well, Buehler would throw another live batting practice before pitching in a Cactus League game.
Buehler’s availability come Opening Day is of further significance considering where Clayton Kershaw is. Inflammation in Kershaw’s left shoulder forced him to be temporarily shut down and delayed his progression.
Though, the Dodgers have maintained Kershaw is still their starter for the season opener. If that doesn’t end up holding true, Buehler could be an option, or perhaps Hyun-Jin Ryu as remaining on his current schedule aligns him to start against the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 28.