Dodgers: Walker Buehler on the Fast Track to Cy Young Contention
The Dodgers got all they could have wanted and more from Walker Buehler this year. Heading into 2019, Buehler will be a legitimate Cy Young candidate.
The 2018 season was quite the crash course for Walker Buehler on becoming a top tier starting pitcher in the big leagues. It was just a season ago that Buehler pitched in eight games and posted an awful 7.71 ERA. Things got so bad in one game that Chase Utley went out to the mound to jokingly introduce himself to Buehler and told him to get some outs.
Fast forward to this season and you could make the argument that Walker Buehler was the best starting pitcher on the Dodgers this season. When it comes to his stuff, there is not a starting pitcher in the entire Dodger organization that has as good of stuff as Buehler. The young right hander pitched to a 2.62 ERA this season and allowed a .193 batting average against.
The National League Rookie of the Year award will be announced later on today and if it wasn’t for fractured ribs that forced Buehler to miss several weeks, he could have been the favorite. As it currently stands, Ronald Acuna will most likely win the award but Walker Buehler was a top three finalist for the award and he deserves it.
The postseason was another litmus test for Buehler this season and he posted a 3.80 ERA in the playoffs which is inflated due to his first start. In his first start, Buehler looked like a rookie allowing a grand slam to ROY favorite Ronald Acuna and he looked the part of a rookie. After that start Buehler settled in and became the best pitcher in the Dodgers’ playoff rotation.
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Walker’s finest postseason start came when the stakes were the highest in the World Series. All Buehler did was silence one of the most potent offenses in baseball over seven shutout innings, while allowing just two hits. Even more impressive was that he allowed no walks and struck out seven.
It’s worth noting that while Clayton Kershaw was younger in his debut season, Clayton did not start in the first postseason of his career, he pitched two innings of relief. Meanwhile Walker Buehler pitched and started in the postseason during his first full Major League season and he excelled. Buehler got great experience in his rookie season pitching in a game seven, and starting a World Series game.
Looking ahead to the 2019 season, not only will Walker Buehler arguably be the real ace of the rotation but he will also be a legitimate Cy Young candidate as early as next year. The Dodgers made sure to treat Buehler with kid gloves this season, but Andrew Friedman has already said the Dodgers expect him to pitch 200 innings in 2019.
Expect Walker Buehler to be mentioned in the Cy Young conversation next season, especially if he continues to hammer down control of his off-speed pitches. After looking like an over-matched pitcher in September of 2017, Walker Buehler showed he was the real deal in 2018. Look for Walker to start chasing award hardware in 2019.