Dodgers: Has Clayton Kershaw been usurped as the Dodgers’ ace?
The Case for Walker Buehler
When Walker Buehler starts pitching, right from the first pitch, the crowd knows he’s an ace. He has a booming fastball, a knee-buckling curve, and he can reach back and fire the fastball as hard in the first inning as he can in the bottom of the ninth.
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Buehler embodies the ace criteria much more clearly than Ryu does, even if the numbers don’t back that up. I think Buehler has obviously been outpitched by Ryu both this season and since July of last season. But for me, that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Buehler’s allure and ace hood are linked more to the intangibles and to the mound presence than to his statistics.
When Buehler pitches, fans are excited. Fans will disregard his bad starts and move on without blinking an eye when it comes to the Vandy Boy because he possesses that ‘It Factor.’
Plus, his numbers don’t hurt his case either. Since July 1 of last season, Buehler has a 2.86 ERA, sixth-best amongst starters in that span, and a 10.02 K/9, good for 26th-best in that span. Only 4 of his 18 starts this season have seen him allow 4+ earned runs, and he has allowed 2 or fewer runs in 10 of his 18 starts, helping him reach an 8–1 record.
If I could choose between each of the three Dodger starters right now to start a Game 7 or a play-in game or anyone important start, it would probably be Buehler. Even though Ryu would be the rational choice based on the numbers, Buehler feels safer to me, more likely to dominate even the best of hitters and shut down opponents in a crippling fashion.