After Tommy John surgery knocked out nearly all of the 2016 season for Walker Buehler, he continued his rapid rise through the Dodgers’ minor league system and made his major league debut in 2017.
What went right
Buehler, the Dodgers’ first-round draft pick in 2015, started the season in Class-A Rancho Cucamonga but was in Double-A Tulsa by the first week of May. He made it to Triple-A Oklahoma City in mid-July, then switched to a relief role and made it to the Dodgers by September.
Across three minor league levels Buehler had a 3.35 ERA with 125 strikeouts (a 35% strikeout rate) and 31 walks in 88⅔ innings, including a 3.11 ERA in 19 starts. He was called up to the Dodgers on Sept. 6.
Buehler in his major league debut on Sept. 7 threw two scoreless innings against the Rockies with two strikeouts. His first major league strikeout was Charlie Blackmon.
Buehler in his eight games in the majors averaged 98.45 mph on his fastball per Brooks Baseball, and 92.15 mph on his slider.
He was named the Dodgers’ Branch Rickey minor league pitcher of the year.
What went wrong
Buehler impressed with his stuff in his September stint with the Dodgers, though he allowed runs in four of his eight appearances and walked 18% of his batters faced.
He allowed eight runs on 11 hits in his 9 major league innings. Buehler allowed two home runs to his 44 batters faced, including a grand slam to Mark Reynolds on Sept. 10 against the Rockies.
There was an outside chance of Buehler making the Dodgers’ NLDS roster, though Walker ended up on the outside looking in during the postseason.
Stats: 7.71 ERA, 5.94 FIP, 12 K, 8 BB in 9⅓ IP
Salary: $535,000, pro-rated for his time in the majors, roughly $76,000
Game of the year
Buehler pitched a scoreless inning in relief on Sept. 21 in Philadelphia, and picked up his first major league win after striking out two Phillies.
Buehler has 26 days of major league service time and three option years remaining.