Walker Buehler's Dodgers tenure in danger after pitcher lands on IL yet again

Los Angeles Dodgers v Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Dodgers v Colorado Rockies / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

The Dodgers took two from the Rockies on both Monday and Tuesday night, with Tuesday's win all thanks to some late-game heroics from the Teoscar Hernández (again) in one of the most improbable comebacks you'll ever see.

On Wednesday, the Rockies punched back with a walk-off on a sac fly as LA's bullpen just couldn't hold off a come-from-behind win for Colorado despite a Jason Heyward two-run double that put the Dodgers up 6-4.

Although the Dodgers have at least made sure that the series will end in a stalemate, if nothing better, there are still some huge elephants in the room. Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Mookie Betts both went onto the IL last weekend and, after his start on Tuesday, Walker Buehler has joined them.

Buehler was shelled during his outing, giving up seven runs over four innings (including two homers) before being relieved. He's looked shaky on the mound ever since returning from injury for the first time since 2022; his ERA entering the game was 4.64, and it had ballooned to 5.84 by the time he left.

On Wednesday, the Dodgers officially moved Buehler to the 15-day IL with hip inflammation, after Buehler and Dave Roberts told reporters following his start that it could be a possibility. In a corresponding move, the Dodgers reinstated Bobby Miller to the 26-man, coming back from his own bout of inflammation that's kept him out since mid-April.

Walker Buehler goes to Dodgers IL (again) with hip inflammation, Bobby Miller reinstated

Buehler has struggled mightily since his return to the Dodgers; he's given up 46 hits and 27 runs (24 earned) over eight starts. Getting his velocity back after an almost two-year absence was the main concern, but his fastball has recovered to average 95.5 MPH, so the real issue is his location. He's been getting rocked with that fastball, which isn't inducing chases and is being crushed when it does find the zone.

He and the Dodgers settled on $8.025 million to avoid arbitration in his last year of eligibility, and he's set to become a free agent at the end of this season, but his recurring injuries and his apparent struggle to get back to being the Cy Young-caliber pitcher he was before he got hurt raises questions for his future in LA.

Buehler has pitched in just 20 games since the start of 2022. He was supposed to rebuild his value this season and prove to the Dodgers that he'd be worthy of a contract extension or, at the very least, a role with the organization beyond 2024. But a delay in his recovery from TJ, feuding with the Dodgers over his timeline, and now poor performance plus a new injury really changes everything in a bad manner.

Even with Miller reinstated, without Buehler the rotation only goes back to four men with Yamamoto also out. Clayton Kershaw is expected to make his return soon enough, but that still leaves the Dodgers with five when they've clearly been angling toward a six-man rotation.

Until Kershaw does come back, they're back to square one, and the bullpen is bound to take on heavier responsibility until Kershaw comes back or we get to the trade deadline, when LA is certainly going to have to focus more heavily on starting pitching than they ever anticipated. But it's sad to say that this is more than likely the official beginning of the end for Buehler in Dodger Blue.