The Dodgers' pitching staff has been plagued by injury over the past few seasons. In the rotation, Walker Buehler and Tony Gonsolin both had to undergo Tommy John; in the bullpen, Blake Treinen, JP Feyereisen, Daniel Hudson, and Dustin May all went down with various injuries in 2022 and 2023. Some things have been clarified since then: Treinen and Feyereisen are expected to be back in 2024, and Hudson signed a minor-league deal with the team (again), but Buehler, Gonsolin, and May's timelines have been more dubious.
Buehler is the biggest factor here and the only pitcher of the three who will certainly be back at all in 2024. An exact landing date is still up in the air, with some early, optimistic discussion making fans hopeful for a return by Opening Day. That's been pushed back a few times, with newer estimations guessing he'll be back in May.
However, Buehler himself dropped a promising nugget on the Just Baseball podcast that hints he might take the mound for a few innings during spring training.
Walker Buehler reveals encouraging timeline for Dodgers fans after injury concerns
Buehler admitted that he's "not 100% on the schedule" for return in the regular season, but he also confirmed that both he and the team want him to throw a few innings in spring training, and that "everything seems to be lining up" in that regard.
The Dodgers are expected to play their first spring training game against the Padres on Feb. 22. These games always have a revolving door of major and minor leaguers who are looking to get in just a couple at-bats or innings before being cycled out, but watching Buehler pitch for the first time in over a year, even if it's just for an inning or two, will give fans a preview at what to expect when he does properly return to the team.
Buehler has also been spotted throwing on the field at Dodger Stadium, which is certainly reassuring given such a prolonged absence. Spring training will offer a better, longer look at what Buehler can do against opposing hitters, and hopefully it will motivate him even further to get back on schedule and pitch for the team in the early months of the regular season.