Following Sunday’s win against the Rangers, Walker Buehler extended his unbeaten streak to 22 straight starts, the second longest streak in Dodgers history. Kirby Higbe holds the record at 23, but given Buehler’s hot hand, it seems more and more likely Buehler could set a new Los Angeles record.
To put it into perspective, the last time Buehler took a regular season loss was in 2019, when pandemics were a trope of movies and fans flocked like cattle to baseball stadiums to eat, sing, cheer and be jolly.
At Dodger Stadium on Sunday, Buehler pitched six scoreless innings and was buoyed by the offensive prowess of Mookie Betts and Zach McKinstry to secure a Los Angeles victory.
Could Buehler be the most consistent pitcher in the rotation? So far, all signs point toward yes.
Buehler’s record this season is 6-0 with a career-low 2.38 ERA. Whereas Clayton Kershaw might be the team’s most beloved pitcher, and Trevor Bauer might be the most controversial, Buehler has time and time again proven his consistency in games that the Dodgers need him most. He has pitched six or more innings in each of his 13 starts and his Swiss-army dependability is all but holding this surprisingly ragtag team together.
In a Sunday press conference, Buehler fielded questions from reporters about his 29th straight start without facing a loss and credited his teammates for most of the glory.
“To me that’s a team number,” Buehler said. “That doesn’t happen unless the offense has saved me a bunch of times, which they have.”
Walker Buehler inches closer to breaking a crazy Dodgers record
Even with Corey Seager and Max Muncy on the disabled list, the Dodgers’ offense has been reloading and refiring as of late with Will Smith, Justin Turner, and Mookie Betts at the helm. But Buehler’s feat still deserves to stand alone, with the pitcher himself admitting to reporters, shyly, “There’s a little bit of pride in that.”
There’s a whole lot of pride when you’re outshining Kershaw, whose 3.39 ERA is his highest since he was a rookie, and Bauer, whose spin rate has dropped since the MLB started enforcing rules against doctoring baseballs and “sticky substances.”
In an era when pitchers’ win-loss records aren’t always seen as good evaluators, Buehler just might be the exception. He’s the lone pillar of consistency in this Dodgers team, and Los Angeles will need him dearly if they want to make it far in the postseason.
Buehler can pretend all he wants that he doesn’t care about the numbers, that baseball is a team sport first and foremost, but when asked what his last loss was, he was almost too quick to answer.
Buehler wants to break that record badly, and with his blistering performances, not even another pandemic will get in his way.