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Walker Buehler behind other Dodgers starters in innings build-up

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Dodgers plan to carry extra relievers to help cover short starts in the early part of the season

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers-Workouts Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

So far in Dodgers camp, a trio of starting pitchers have been stretched out, with Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, and Ross Stripling each throwing into the sixth inning in their last starts. Walker Buehler, however, has not yet pitched in an intrasquad game.

“He’s just a little bit behind the other guys,” manager Dave Roberts said on a Zoom call Tuesday. “But once the season starts, whatever he can give us, with the extra pitchers we’ll have on staff, will be sufficient.”

Buehler threw to hitters on Sunday in a simulated situation, but only for what Roberts called the equivalent “one-plus” innings. The plan for Buehler is to throw two innings plus next time out in another simulated situation, then likely in an exhibition game after that. The Dodgers play three exhibition games at Dodger Stadium, beginning Sunday night against Arizona.

Roberts said Buehler isn’t injured, but that Kershaw, Wood, and Stripling all threw regularly during the time off, and Buehler didn’t.

“With Walker, he took some time off with the uncertainty, and that was his decision. [Pitching coach] Mark [Prior] was in tune with it,” Roberts said. “The build-up period for Walker is just going to take a little bit longer. I think ultimately we get him, once the season starts, three or four innings with some guys behind him, he’ll be fine, and we’ll just continue to build him up.”

Notes

  • Roberts said beyond Kershaw for opening day, the order of the starting rotation hasn’t been decided, but that they will stick with a five-man rotation to begin the season.
  • Julio Urias pitched three innings followed by bullpen work in Friday’s intrasquad games, so he’s more built up so far in camp than Buehler. Roberts said they would likely use a long reliever to follow one or both of Urias and Buehler in the early part of the season.
  • Roberts said earlier in the week that expanded rosters in the early going — 30 players on the active roster for the first two weeks — would likely mean carrying one extra position player. That leaves room for 16 pitchers, which would mean an 11-man bullpen to help cover shorter starts by Buehler and/or Urias.
  • Major league umpires will work the final four Dodgers intrasquad games, a two-man crew including Ryan Blakney beginning Tuesday night, before full umpiring crews work the three exhibition games. “You’ve seen the last of Bob Geren behind the plate.