Dodgers: Walker Buehler Deserves the 7th inning

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Relief pitcher Walker Buehler
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Relief pitcher Walker Buehler /

Early in the season one of the high points of the Dodgers was the bullpen. But during this rough patch, the bullpen has been hard to watch. Everyone that has been given a shot has seemed to fail. That is why Roberts should give Walker Buehler the job in the 7th inning.

Kenley Jansen is about the only reliable arm in the Dodgers’ bullpen. The problem has been getting the ball to him with a lead. This is one of the reasons his save numbers are not as high. The 6-8 innings have been a roller coaster ride in recent games. The timing of this bullpen collapse has come at the wrong time. Luckily it’s not October, thus giving Roberts some time to solidify it.

Two bright spots not named Kenley have been the deadline acquisitions. Tony Cingrani and Tony Watson have been great during this bad stretch. But one major concern is not having enough right-handed bullpen arms. A reversal of roles. First not having the left-handed pitching in the bullpen, now lacking right-handed pitchers.

The only right-hander other than Kenley that has been good enough is Brandon Morrow. It looks like he will be the man in the 8th. With Cingrani and Watson likely being matched-up against left-handed hitters, the Dodgers need a man to lock down the 7th inning and hand the ball to Morrow who will give it up to Kenley and a win.

That’s where Pedro Baez comes into play……. Just kidding. The man that should get a chance to fill that role is September call-up and number one prospect Walker Buehler. He might have the best stuff in the entire staff. He is electric, especially coming out of the bullpen because he does not need to preserve stamina like he would as a starter.

Roberts has given as many opportunities to Pedro Baez as he possibly could, hoping he would step-up and revert to the form he had early on in the season. But Baez has failed miserably and might have just pitched himself off of the playoff roster. This opens up a spot for the prized arm of the Vanderbilt star Walker Buehler.

The slim 23-year-old has an ugly 10.13 ERA in his short time with the big club. But that number is inflated because of one bad outing. Against the Rockies, he gave up four runs and was only able to get one out. Buehler only gave up two hits in that outing. He struggled with finding the zone, but he has shown how dominant he can be when he is pounding strikes.

The outing before giving up the four runs, Buehler pitched two shutout innings in his MLB debut. His stuff is as electric as you can get. He can get his fastball upwards of 100 mph. He also has a nasty curve and a slider with sweeping action. That three-pitch combo is perfect for him working out of the bullpen. His big arm will play very well in the playoffs.

Having a September call-up fill a vital role in October can be the wild-card that a team needs to get over the hump. Just ask the Angels.

In 2002 the Angels called-up a pitcher with an electric arm in September. With a struggling bullpen, Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) earned the role as a set-up man despite pitching in just five MLB games before the playoffs. He was dominant in late-inning situations and was an important part of their 2002 World Series title.

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Perhaps the Dodgers use Buehler in a similar role to that of K-Rod in 2002. Buehler has electric stuff just like him and might just be the shot in the arm that this team needs.

This has some pros and cons though. One con is throwing Buehler out there and him failing on the biggest stage. Another con is not knowing how comfortable he actually is coming out of the bullpen as he is accustomed to being a starting pitcher.

One pro is teams not having much tape on him and not being able to adjust in time and which may give Buehler the advantage. Another pro is how much of a big-time pitcher he was in college.

He understands the big stage and thrived under the bright lights in college. He seems to pitch better with pressure. His first MLB appearance is a testament to that. All the pressure of a lifelong dream coming to fruition and he managed to keep his emotions intact and pitch two shutout innings for the Dodgers.

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Walker Buehler should get to fill the vacancy the Dodgers currently have. Big arms and electric stuff tend to play well in the cooler weather of October. His stuff is top notch. But what really makes him suitable for this job is his poise and composure under the bright lights. He could be the x-factor that this team needs in the playoffs.