Preview: Dodgers’ Walker Buehler Faces Rockies In First Start Since 16-Strikeout Game
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler against the Arizona Diamondbacks
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies would like to forget the last time they faced Walker Buehler and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The second-year right-gander put together the best start of his young career on June 21, striking out 16 over nine innings while only allowing three hits. Two of those hits were solo home runs, though, and the Dodgers needed a walk-off homer from Matt Beaty for a 4-2 win.

The Rockies, of course, would like to forget the rest of that series as well. Beaty’s fellow rookies Alex Verdugo and Will Smith each hit a walk-off home run in the next two games to give the Dodgers a thrilling sweep at Dodger Stadium.

Buehler makes his first start since that dominant outing as the Dodgers open a four-game rematch with the Rockies at Coors Field on Thursday. He rides a streak of four straight quality starts in the month of June, where he has been been flat-out dominant.

In 31 innings pitched this month, Buehler has an 0.87 ERA with 42 strikeouts to just three walks. His performance over that stretch evokes other great Dodgers right-handers such as Hideo Nomo, who was the franchise’s last righty to strike out at least 16 in a game before Buehler did so.

It is fitting, then, that Buehler will make his final outing of his incredible June in the same ballpark where Nomo put the exclamation point of his 1996 season. On Sept. 17 of that year, the Japanese hurler tossed a no-hitter in Coors Field, a feat some thought was impossible in the extremely hitter-friendly environment.

The Rockies send rookie Peter Lambert to the mound, who most recently had a three-run, five-inning outing at Dodger Stadium on June 22, giving up a home run to Verdugo.

He has a 5.85 ERA so far, mainly thanks to an eight-run, three-inning drubbing at home against the San Diego Padres on June 16.

By the time both pitchers settle in, they will face a 2019 National League All-Star starter in the opposing lineup. The Rockies’ Nolan Arenado won the “Starters Election” at his third base position while Cody Bellinger placed among the top three vote-getters in the outfield.

Bellinger will start after only playing five innings across the past two games as he deals with minor knee tendinitis suffered while playing the Tampa Bay Rays last month. Justin Turner also starts after receiving Wednesday off.

The Dodgers are in the final stages of a grueling stretch of playing 18 games in as many days. They have added some fresh faces on the roster for this series to help. Edwin Rios and Zac Rosscup were called up while pitchers Tony Gonsolin and J.T. Chargois were optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Rios has yet to make his MLB debut while Rosscup’s next appearance will mark a return of sorts. Rosscup pitched for the Dodgers last year before spending parts of this season with the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. He additionally spent time with the Rockies in 2017.

Dodgers lineup:

1B: Joc Pederson
CF: Alex Verdugo
3B: Justin Turner
RF: Cody Bellinger
2B: Max Muncy
LF: Matt Beaty
SS: Chris Taylor
C: Austin Barnes
P: Walker Buehler

Rockies lineup:

RF: Charlie Blackmon
CF: David Dahl
3B: Nolan Arenado
1B: Daniel Murphy
LF: Ramiel Tapia
2B: Ryan McMahon
C: Tony Wolters
P: Peter Lambert
SS: Garrett Hampson