Dodgers News: Walker Buehler Unable To Finish 3 Innings In Latest Rehab Start

Walker Buehler continued his rehab assignment with the Triple-A Oklahoma City Baseball Club, but the latest start was a reminder he is still working to find a rhythm and consistent feel on the mound.

The right-hander is trying to return from a second career Tommy John surgery that has kept him out of big league action since June 10, 2022. A clean bill of health is the goal for Buehler in returning, and it’s a possibility he could return to the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation fairly soon if all things click right.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the club would make that decision after Buehler’s latest rehab game. However, the results of which may delay Buehler’s return.

In his fourth rehab start on Thursday, Buehler didn’t flash his best stuff while pitching for OKC. He lasted just 2.2 innings while allowing two earned runs on four hits with four walks.

Of his 68 pitches, Buehler landed just 34 for strikes. Using a heavy mix of 29 four-seam fastballs and 17 cutters, he wasn’t locating particularly well. Though it’s worth noting it was Buehler’s first rehab start that incorporated the Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS).

Buehler allowed four hard-hit balls, with one just shy of a fifth at a 94.7 exit velocity. He improved on his cutter spin rate, inducing seven whiffs and one chase.

He’s still been unable to ramp up the spin on his fastball back to career norms, averaging out at 2,255 rpm. Buehler generated just two whiffs on the four-seam, but got batters to chase it six times on Thursday.

Reason to be concerned about Walker Buehler?

Understanding that he’s returning from a second major elbow injury is enough to temper immediate expectations of what Buehler can produce for the Dodgers. But for as competitive of a baseball player as he is, it’s fair to assume that he’ll want to have his approach refined before joining the big club.

Buehler’s stuff isn’t where it used to be, and likely to his own thought, there is and will be room for improvement the more Buehler takes the mound.

A worry is will his stuff be good enough to get MLB hitters out multiple times through a batting order. Where his secondary stuff ends up by the time he gets the call should be a sticking point, because he simply doesn’t possess a fastball that can carry him through starts like in year’s past.

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