Walker Buehler pitched in a game for the first time in nearly 15 months, throwing two perfect innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City in the first game of a minor league rehab assignment.
Buehler threw 24 pitches in his two innings against the Round Rock Express (a Rangers affiliate), and got two strikeouts. He allowed a pair of hard-hit balls, but both were hit right at fielders. Jorbit Vivas made a nice diving stab at second base in the first inning, and Miguel Vargas was in good position in left field to catch a 104.8-mph drive in the second.
It's usually reserved for homers, but can we please get a YEESH for Walker Buehler's first strikeout? pic.twitter.com/TpvP1LmOzp— Oklahoma City Dodgers (@okc_dodgers) September 3, 2023
In his two innings. Buehler mixed in all of his pitches — cutter, sinker, curveball, even one slider per Baseball Savant — and averaged 94.4 mph on his four-seam fastball, topping out at 96.1 mph on the pitch. It’s not that far off from the 95.2 mph Buehler averaged on his four-seamer last year or 95.3 mph in 2021.
Buehler induced one swinging strike in eight swings against him.
Sunday was the first game for Buehler since June 20, 2022 with the Dodgers. He had Tommy John surgery and flexor tendon repair in his right elbow on August 23 last year. The Tommy John surgery was Buehler’s second, having also had the procedure after getting drafted by the Dodgers in 2015.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Thursday that Buehler would need at least three minor league rehab starts before potentially being activated. The team plans to use Buehler as a starting pitcher, even if he’s not fully built up right away.
“There’s no clear definition. A starter is a person that starts the game,” Roberts said Thursday. “It’s not going to be five [innings] and 75 [pitches], I know that.”
There’s still a long way to go before wondering where or if Buehler might fit into a potential Dodgers postseason roster. But Sunday was important first step to that end.