It’s not often that a baseball game in the regular season has a “Where were you when that happened?” moment. Usually, those are saved for the postseason. Friday night might be the rare exception.
Years from now, people will be asking one another “Where were you the night Walker Buehler did that?”
Last night’s Dodgers game was one for the books. Though the game was won at the hands of Matt Beaty, who delivered a two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth, the true hero was the man that was on the mound, Walker Buehler.
When I say it was one for the books, it truly was. The 24-year-old delivered the best performance of his career, and arguably one of the greatest performances in Dodgers history. On the night, Buehler struck out 16, a career-high. He threw his first ever complete game, going nine innings on 111 pitches. He issued zero walks, and allowed only two runs, both of which came via the home run.
Time to get to the records. Buehler became the sixth pitcher in franchise history to strike out at least 16 batters. He’s the first to do it since Hideo Nomo back in April of 1996, a few months before I was even born. On top of being only the sixth Dodgers player to accomplish the feat, he’s the first to do it without ever issuing a walk.
Out of his 16 strikeouts, 15 of them were swinging, which is tied for the second most by a starter in baseball over the last 10 seasons. The most impressive part of Buehler’s dominance was the fact that his velocity stayed consistent all night. He opened up the game with a 95 mph fastball to Charlie Blackmon and finished it with a 97 mph fastball to Nolan Arenado on his 111th pitch.
As mentioned earlier, he only allowed two runs, both of which came as a result of solo home runs. According to Buehler, they were bad pitches, but manager Dave Roberts thought that they were still good pitches. Needless to say, he was still practically un-hittable. He only had to pitch out of the stretch once all night, in the ninth after he allowed a single to Charlie Blackmon. Aside from that, Buehler was in cruise control for two hours, and didn’t take his foot off the pedal once.
This outing doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball during the month of June.
Walker Buehler in June (4 starts):— Rick Krajewski (@Rick_K21) June 22, 2019
3-0, 0.87 ERA, .121 BA against, 42 Ks to 1 BB in 31 IP
ERA = 3rd in MLB
BA against = 1st in MLB
Ks = 2nd in MLB
K/BB = 2nd in MLB
Definitely a contender for pitcher of the month #Dodgers
Though he’s still 24 years old, and likely has a long big-league career ahead of him, last nights performance from Buehler could be the one we remember most when it’s all said and done. It’s hard to believe he’ll ever top 16 strikeouts, but more especially, ever have that dominant of a start. The Rockies have one of the best lineups in baseball, especially over the last month. It didn’t matter for Buehler.
The Dodgers have something special in Buehler, everyone knows that. But, after last nights start, it’s safe to say that he cemented himself as one of the best pitchers in the game today.