Marlins Vs. Dodgers Game Preview: Walker Buehler Returns For 1st Start Since 2022

The Los Angeles Dodgers have won four in a row after sweeping the Atlanta Braves and now look toward a three-game set at home against the Miami Marlins. And to kick things off, the Dodgers get the long-awaited return of Walker Buehler after a near two-year absence.

Buehler last pitched on a Major League mound on June 10, 2022 before a torn UCL caused him to undergo a second Tommy John surgery. Buehler put all his effort into making a late 2023 return, but ultimately ran out of time. Now, he takes the mound at Dodger Stadium on Monday evening.

His long time away could make it easy to forget that Buehler was on the path to becoming one of the best pitchers in the Majors.

Buehler, 29, has two All-Star selections already, in 2019 and 2021. His 2021 season saw him finish fourth in National league Cy Young voting after posting a 2.47 ERA and an NL-best 171 ERA+ while striking out 212 batters in 207.2 innings.

Injuries limited Buehler in 2022, as he could never quite find his rhythm before ultimately discovering the torn ligament in his elbow. He pitched only 65 innings, his lowest of a 162-game season in his career. And this is why for his return, expectations within the organization have been tempered.

Buehler gets a bit of an ease in with the Marlins as his first start in nearly two seasons. The Marlins — after making the postseason in 2023 — are off to a dismal start. Their .228 team average ranks 22nd in MLB and their .626 OPS ranks 28th. While they don’t strike out often as a team, they do not hit for average or power through their first 36 games.

The Marlins may be an easier test in Buehler’s first start of the year, but they are still a Major League team and must be treated as such.

There has been no hard pitch limit revealed on Buehler, but it will be fascinating to see how manager Dave Roberts approaches his outing, especially with new injuries to Evan Phillips and Ryan Brasier in the bullpen and recently-returned Blake Treinen likely unavailable.

Dodgers Lineup

SS: Mookie Betts
DH: Shohei Ohtani
1B: Freddie Freeman
C: Will Smith
3B: Max Muncy
LF: Teoscar Hernández
RF: Andy Pages
2B: Gavin Lux
CF: James Outman

Marlins Lineup

CF: Jazz Chisholm Jr.
DH: Bryan De La Cruz
1B: Josh Bell
RF: Jesus Sánchez
SS: Tim Anderson
LF: Nick Gordon
2B: Vidal Bruján
3B: Jonah Bride
C: Christian Bethancourt

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