Walker Buehler might've proved he's ready for Dodgers return with latest rehab outing

Jun 10, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler
Jun 10, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler / D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

The wait may finally be over; Walker Buehler may finally be returning to the Dodgers after an almost two-year absence. His road back from his second Tommy John and flexor tendon repair has been exhausting for both him and Dodgers fans, who have been baited with potential return after potential return.

As the team geared up for the postseason last year, they were optimistic Buehler would be able to come back for the NLDS. He made one minor league rehab start before being shut down from pitching entirely. This year, he was present at spring training and wanted to pitch, but he and the team continued to disagree on his readiness and he never stepped onto the mound.

He began another rehab stint (in earnest, this time) on March 31, but even that was repeatedly met with complications. He was getting taken out of games early because of poor performance or potentially scary injuries (he took a line drive to the hand, but ended up being fine), and more rehab starts kept getting tacked on.

But — knock on wood — it seems like the time for the comeback is now. Buehler made his sixth start in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, and he could be reinstated to the 26-man by next week.

Walker Buehler may finally be ready to come back to Dodgers after best rehab outing so far

Buehler pitched five innings on Tuesday, the most of any of his starts so far. He gave up seven hits to the Salt Lake Bees but only one turned into a run, struck out five batters, and didn't give up any walks. He hadn't looked that good since his second start on April 6, when he pitched 4 2/3 innings and only gave up two hits and no runs while striking out six. The three starts sandwiched in between were ugly; particularly the four-inning, seven-hit, five-run start on April 24 that demanded at least one more outing.

The Dodgers' limping pitching staff needs Buehler to come back and be as good as he can be after a long absence, so while the wait and the constant walk backs on a timeline to return have been slightly infuriating, at least he looks much less likely to implode when he gets back to the majors than he did a week ago.

Nothing is official yet, but the Dodgers are going to have to let Buehler take the plunge at some point soon.