I don’t know how many times Walker Buehler will make a start in the World Series throughout his career, but let’s hope we have plenty more. Friday night, Buehler made his second career start in the Fall Classic, and he showed that he is just as good as advertised.
“He always peaks at the right time for us, the big moments and the big postseason moments,” Austin Barnes said. “He’s been providing for us. He’s our guy.”
The 26-year-old threw six innings of one-run ball. He struck out 10, a new postseason career-high for him. Tampa Bay was able to get a few hits off of him, but from the first inning on, you just had the feeling they had no chance against him.
“He was filling up the zone early,” Mookie Betts said following the game. “He gave us chances to keep adding on. Obviously a great outing. You give up one run and give us the chance to score some and hold it, I think we should more games than not.”
From the first pitch, Buehler was in the zone and looked as if he would be un-hittable. I mean, he nearly was, as he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. “He was unbelievable,” Barnes said. “He really was. He made it really easy on me. That might have been the best I’ve ever seen his stuff.”
Buehler likely could have gone another inning, but manager Dave Roberts knew he had seen everything he wanted to see from his ace. Pulling him after six was the right move in his eyes.
“We have a good understanding of each other and where he’s at,” Roberts said. “There’s times I know he’s emptied the tank. Tonight I just felt with that last inning, he gave us all he needed to give. Walker always wants to go back out there, but I felt really good about that being his night.”
When asked about what it’s like to see Buehler slowly establishing himself as an October legend, Roberts said he hasn’t put it all together and wrapped his head around all he’s accomplished in this short amount of time. “Being a big game pitcher and succeeding on this stage, he’s in some really elite company,” he said. “I’m just really happy he’s wearing a Dodgers uniform.”
It’s been a bumpy road to get to this point. Buehler wasn’t built up to begin the season, as he missed all of summer camp. He was pushed back in the rotation to allow him more time to build his arm up. He didn’t look good at all through his first four starts, as he allowed 12 runs to score in his first 19 innings of work. In his first four outings, Buehler allowed five homers and issued nine walks.
After a month in which he struggled, he finally looked like the Buehler of old on August 21, where he threw a season-high six innings with a season-high 11 strikeouts. It looked as if he had finally overcome the struggles of the first month. Then, the blister issues began.
Buehler missed nearly two weeks at the end of August with a lingering blister issue and then missed another two weeks during the middle of September. Though the blister issues still aren’t 100 percent gone, Buehler is ready to put everything he’s dealt with this season in the past.
“I think we’ve done a good job,” Buehler said when asked how the Dodgers have handled his workload these season. “There were a few games I wanted to keep going. That’s what you want. You want an organization thats going to help you and hold you back. As a player you want to keep going. They’ve done a good job with it.”
Roberts said that they feel really good about the process they went through to get to this point. He’s grateful they were cautious with it. “It’s good to see Buehler throwing the baseball his best this time of year.”