Walker Buehler has been the Dodgers’ choice for Game 1 starter in four of their last five postseason series, and the only time he didn’t get the ball in an opener was last year’s World Series, because it was too soon after he pitched in the NLCS.
So it’s fitting that the lone Dodgers pitcher to represent them in the All-Star Game this season is their ace.
Buehler’s reputation was forged even earlier than that, pitching scoreless baseball into the seventh inning in the tie-breaking Game 163 of his rookie season (2018) to win the National League West. In 11 postseason starts since, he has a 2.35 ERA, allowing more than one run just once in his last nine October outings.
This year, Buehler leads the team in ERA (2.36) and innings pitched (114⅓), lasting at least six frames in 17 of his 18 starts.
“Walker has always been a big-game pitcher. We’ve seen it year in and year out, beginning with Game 163, him stepping up, taking the ball, and getting big outs for us,” said fellow All-Star Justin Turner. “Where I’ve seen him grow the most is the not big game. Taking the ball, competing and being efficient, and getting deeper into games, I think that’s something he’s taken a lot of pride in. He’s really worked hard on it, and you’ve seen that this year.”
Buehler on Saturday was named as one of several replacements on the National League roster, after four of the eight starting pitchers on the initial roster bowed out. Kevin Gausman and Brandon Woodruff are starting Sunday, while Jacob deGrom and Yu Darvish cited injuries.
“I couldn’t care less if you’re the last guy on a replacement. It doesn’t matter to me,” Buehler said Saturday. “I’m thrilled to be there with our team and teammates, and all those other guys.”
This is the second All-Star berth for Buehler, who was a players’ selection in 2019. Buehler struck out two in his one inning of work in that game — the fifth inning — but also allowed a double to Gary Sanchez and a single to Jorge Polanco for a run.
“The second one’s obviously a little different than the first,” Buehler said. “In the first one, you’re kind of in disbelief until you’re out there on the field, at the Home Run Derby of BP, or whatever.”
Buehler is 9-1 with a 2.36 ERA in 18 starts and 114⅓ innings, and his 6.35 innings per start ranks fifth in the majors. His 17 games with at least six innings are the most in the majors.
Among National League pitchers, Buehler ranks fourth in innings pitched, sixth in ERA, 11th in walk rate (5.9 percent), ninth in bWAR (3.1), and 12th in fWAR (2.3).
If Buehler gets in the game, he’ll be the seventh Dodger to pitch in multiple All-Star Games before his age-27 season:
- Fernando Valenzuela: 5 games
- Don Drysdale: 4 games
- Clayton Kershaw: 4 games
- Don Newcombe: 3 games
- Van Mungo: 2 games
- Sandy Koufax: 2 games
The last Dodgers pitcher to earn a win in the All-Star Game was Jerry Reuss in 1980 at Dodger Stadium.