Dodgers: Walker Buehler Grows up on the Big Stage

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 01: Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches to the Colorado Rockies in the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies during the National League West tiebreaker game at Dodger Stadium on October 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 01: Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches to the Colorado Rockies in the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies during the National League West tiebreaker game at Dodger Stadium on October 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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The Dodgers kept saying that they believed in Walker Buehler even with the youngster making his first “playoff” appearance.  After Monday’s outing, there is no doubt that Buehler is ready for the big stage.

Although today’s game was technically a regular season game, the atmosphere and meaning behind today’s game was anything but regular.  The winner of today’s game was in the playoffs as the NL West champs while the loser would have to battle the playoff tested Cubs in a winner take all game.  Nobody wants to go through that route.

The Dodgers are now NL West champs for the sixth consecutive season and while that is not the ultimate goal, it was a necessary step to reach the ultimate goal of being World Series champions.  Walker Buehler pitched the biggest game of his MLB career and if he was nervous at all, the results certainly didn’t show it.

All Walker Buehler did was pitch 6 2/3 innings of one hit ball.  While Buehler allowed baserunners earlier in the game, he did not allow a base hit until Charlie Blackmon singled with one out in the sixth inning.  While Buehler only recorded three strikeouts, he had command of the plate and never got himself into big trouble.

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Buehler has come a long way from last September when he pitched out of the Dodgers bullpen in September and seemed over matched in his outings.  While Buehler’s stuff was there last September, he seemed to be pitching like he didn’t have confidence in his stuff.  This season Buehler has taken a step forward and then some.

Coming into today’s game the Rockies’ offense was as hot as any lineup in baseball.  The Rockies put up twelve runs on Sunday and outside of two games last week they seemed to put up double digits every day of the week.  I don’t think even us Dodger fans could have expected the kind of dominance that young Walker Buehler exhibited today.

On top of the Rockies’ red hot offense, the Dodgers also had to deal with a pitcher that was as hot as anyone not named Walker Buehler.  German Marquez had been one of the best pitchers in baseball during the second half of the season compiling a 2.55 ERA in the second half of the season.  In September he had been even better posting a 2.14 ERA.  Buehler definitely knew runs could be at a premium which added more pressure against a high octane offense.

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While Clayton Kershaw is the more established pitcher, Walker Buehler is trending towards being the ace of the Dodgers’ rotation.  Kershaw doesn’t have the kind of electric stuff that Buehler has now and Buehler has four pitches he isn’t afraid to use including a decent changeup.  Kershaw will be known as the workhorse of the Dodger rotation but this October Buehler may take the torch and become the Dodgers’ ace.