Walker Buehler's latest rehab assignment once again raises concerns for Dodgers

Pittsburgh Pirates v Los Angeles Dodgers
Pittsburgh Pirates v Los Angeles Dodgers / Harry How/GettyImages

The long and winding road that has been Walker Buehler's journey back to the majors has another bend in it. Buehler hasn't pitched in the majors since June 10, 2022, when he was sidelined with elbow discomfort and eventually underwent dual surgeries (including his second Tommy John in August). The Dodgers were initially hopeful he'd make it back by the postseason in 2023, but they shut down that possibility after a single rehab start.

During spring training this year, he and the team seemed to go back and forth on the possibility of him pitching during camp, which he ultimately never did. Instead, he had to wait until his rehab assignment began on March 31. That assignment hasn't been without complications; he took a comebacker to the hand and was taken out of a start on April 12, though he was quick to announce that he was fine and would be back for his next start as scheduled.

He's also gotten shaken up by opposing hitters a couple of times, which has led to some early removals and kept his pitch count limited. On Thursday, he only threw 68 pitches when the Dodgers were hoping he'd get to 80-85, after giving up two runs, four hits, and four walks.

Walker Buehler's rehab assignment hits another snag in his road back to the Dodgers

Buehler was supposed to be evaluated for a potential return following his start on Thursday, but because this is at least the third time his pitch count hasn't gotten where the Dodgers have wanted it, he may need to make another before he can finally come back to LA. No doubt he'll also face some strict pitch limits when he gets back.

His actual performances in rehab could also be cause for concern. It's been a long time since Buehler was able to pitch in an actual game, so there is, of course, a certain margin for error, and Buehler isn't down there to dominate, rather to get back in the swing of things. However, it might mean that we'll all have to hold our breaths a bit whenever he does actually make it back to Dodger Stadium.