After winning a career-high 16 games and finishing fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting last season, Walker Buehler has continued pitching at a high level for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
However, the right-hander has hit a bit of a rough patch of late, particularly when it comes to pitching deep into games.
Buehler allowed two early home runs in his most recent start against the Pittsburgh Pirates that put the Dodgers into a 4-0 deficit. And while he managed to complete six innings, he wasn’t pleased with his mechanics or performance.
“We’ve kind of talked forever about my delivery, and it’s kind of a high-maintenance delivery,” Buehler said. “Obviously I’m not 6’6 and 250 pounds. I’m a smaller guy and I’ve got to generate somehow.
“There’s mechanical stuff, mental stuff, usage and kind of all these puzzle pieces. At the end of the day I just want to be better and help our team win games. I feel like I haven’t really been doing that to the level that I want to.
“I’ve had some success, mostly because our team is really good and kind of covered my ass. We’ll get better and keep working. I’m not a guy that really hangs onto stuff too long, but yeah, I’m frustrated.
“I know guys are frustrated in there at kind of what I’m producing, and that sucks.”
Mookie Betts downplayed the notion that Buehler has let down his clubhouse and believes the team as a whole needs to play better. “I think we haven’t really played that great,” Betts began.
“I know we’re winning games and finding ways, but we haven’t really for a stretch put together all four facets — baserunning, defense, hitting and pitching.
“I think we do it all well, but we slack in certain areas when we don’t need to. It comes back to hurt us, but luckily we’re a good team and have managed. To his point, we do need to play better baseball just in general.”
Roberts: Buehler frustrated with fastball command
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts believes Buehler’s recent struggles have stemmed from a lack of fastball command. “He’s frustrated, certainly,” Roberts began.
“He, like all of us, have high expectations for him. I think right now he’s trying to figure it out on the fly and I think the bottom line is he’s just not commanding the baseball. Namely the fastball command, where all pitchers, you’ve got to have fastball command.
“I think right now he’s searching for that and it’s just not consistent with that throw, so he’s relying more on the cutter to get outs and get through a game.
“Throw a little bit more curveballs, but if you can’t command the fastball, you’re going to be behind in the count and guys are hunting certain pitchers more. He’s obviously working through it.”
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