With Hyun-Jin Ryu’s injury, Walker Buehler is expected to step in and fill that role for the foreseeable future. It may be the chance that he gets to establish himself with the Dodgers finally.
When Ryu went down, it was nothing more than continuous lousy injury luck that the Dodgers have grown accustomed to, especially with him. He was throwing the ball as well as he ever has in his career which makes his absence until after the All-Star break that much more frustrating.
It was then announced that the franchise’s top prospect Walk Buehler was set to replace Ryu’s turn in the rotation. And that is as good a silver lining as there can be with a lengthy injury to a good player. The Dodgers will finally (and cautiously) let loose their uber-talented 23-year-old flamethrower.
The Dodgers wanted to prolong his opportunity by bringing him up later in the season and potentially starting him in the bullpen as long as possible to keep him fresh. But sometimes too cautious can be harmful as well. And if anything, they can let him get used to starting earlier and put him in the pen later on to preserve his arm. This way, the transition back will be smoother.
But Buehler has a chance to show that he does not belong in Oklahoma City or the bullpen for that matter. He got his feet wet last September in preparation for a more significant role in 2018.
But that was not how things started off. He began the season in triple-A down in Oklahoma City and proceeded to start three games. He threw 13 innings, allowed ten hits, four walks, and three earned runs (2.08 ERA) with 16 strikeouts.
He was major league-ready, but the Dodgers did not have an immediate spot for him. But then Rich Hill went down which gave him his first two major league starts in which he threw ten innings, allowing two runs on ten hits and four walks while punching out 11 hitters.
More from LA Dodgers News
- 3 teams that could lure Justin Turner away from Dodgers
- Andrew Friedman’s response to Cody Bellinger non-tender provides nothing for Dodgers fans
- Dodgers News: Aaron Judge recruitment, Cody Bellinger, Trea Turner
- Joc Pederson recruiting Aaron Judge to Giants hits Dodgers fans hard
- 3 intriguing non-tendered free agents the Dodgers could sign
And in his third start last night, he made history, throwing six innings of MLB’s 12th ‘combined no-hitter.’ He pitched six hitless with three walks and eight strikeouts. So in his first three career starts, Walker Buehler has a 1.13 ERA in 16 innings with 19 strikeouts.
He does need to hone his command and control if he wants to be as effective as his talent dictates he can. But with Ryu gone, he has a chance to develop further and cement a spot on the team. He will only get better by starting in the show rather down in the minors. With Ryu missing and Rich Hill a walking injury risk, Buehler’s presence is that much more vital.
If he can go out there and throw five-to-six strong innings each time, that would be perfect in the eyes of Dave Roberts and management. He could establish himself as the Robin to Clayton Kershaw’s Batman. He is the most talented behind Kershaw, so it is time for him to show it. He can finally put an end to all questions about his future of where and in which manner he would be making his next start.
The Dodgers can use an injection of energy and fresh breath. Yasiel Puig has given it before. So has Cody Bellinger. Alex Verdugo might be able to. And Buehler can be that guy. He brings a different kind of excitement because Yu Darvish excluded, the Dodgers have lacked a true flamethrowing pitcher with nasty breaking stuff with the ability to rack up the strikeouts for a long time.
Speaking of Verdugo, Buehler can form an elite rookie position player-pitcher duo with him, and that may be just what the team needs with the Corey Seager news.
It is almost a guarantee that the front office will have to use the DL again for someone, so if he continues to dominate, his spot would be close to untouchable. And even if the team does want to move him to make room for Rich Hill and Ryu, it would be hard to justify keeping Kenta Maeda in the rotation unless Kenta is excelling.
Buehler’s development will be one of the things to observe at as the season progresses. He will play a significant role on the team, and if he does fill this void, we may be looking at the Dodgers’ third consecutive ROY.