The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to step it up in the final stretch of the season.
Walker Buehler, 29, threw a simulated game on Tuesday. He took the mound at Chase Field before the Dodgers’ game against the Arizona Diamondbacks and threw to teammates.
Buehler underwent Tommy John surgery to repair ligaments in his elbow on June 11 last year against the San Francisco Giants, sidelining him for an extended period of time. He underwent a lengthy rehabilitation and threw his first live game since the surgery.
Buehler is the Dodgers’ ace. He was drafted by the Dodgers with the 24th overall pick in the first round of the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He was talented enough to be selected in the top round and worked his way through the minors in just two years. He made his big league debut in the 2017 season.
The following year, Buehler distinguished himself in the starting rotation. In 24 games (23 starts), he went 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA in 137 1/3 innings. Since then, he’s been a fixture in the starting rotation and has been consistent. He won 14 games in 2019 and 16 in 2021.
It wasn’t just in the regular season, but in the postseason as well. In fall ball from 2018-2021, he went 3-3 with a 2.94 ERA in 15 games and 79⅔ innings pitched. In 2020, he went 2-2 with a 1.80 ERA in five games and 25 innings, helping the Dodgers win the World Series. With such a proven track record, Buehler’s return could take the Dodgers’ starting rotation to the next level.
The Dodgers are 67-46 on the season and in first place in the National League West. They have the second-best winning percentage in the National League, behind only the Atlanta Braves (72-40/.643 winning percentage). They’re one of the favorites to make the postseason.
However, it’s not all plain sailing for the Dodgers. That’s because of their starting pitching. This year, the Dodgers starting pitching staff hasn’t lived up to expectations, ranking 19th in team ERA (4.61) and 24th in innings pitched (568).
Veteran Clayton Kershaw is battling a shoulder injury. Last year’s 17-win pitcher Julio Urias and 16-win pitcher Tony Gonsolos have been up and down. Lance Lynn, acquired in a trade from the Chicago White Sox, just broke into the starting rotation and went 2-2 with a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings. The team is in desperate need of starting pitching beyond Lynn, so Buehler’s return is welcome.
Major League Baseball experts also saw the positive aspects of Buehler’s return. Reporter Bob Nightingale wrote on social media on Tuesday, “I’m very encouraged by the rehab progress of Buehler and bullpen arm Blake Trinen. They’ll make their comebacks in September and could be part of the postseason roster. The Dodgers will be scarier in October,” he wrote.온라인바카
After watching Buehler pitch, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told ESPN: “It was much better than I expected, and he used all his pitches. “His four-seam fastball was sitting 92-93 mph (148-149.6 km/h) and his cutter was up to 90 mph (144.8 km/h). My velocity was better than expected.”