The loss of Walker Buehler has been one of the least talked about stories around this Dodgers team. Last year, when the Dodgers were ousted by the Padres in the NLDS, the health of the starting rotation played a big factor.
Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May were hurt at the end of the year, and weren’t exactly ready to go come postseason time. Gonsolin was only able to get four outs in his start in the postseason, and May didn’t even make an appearance. The Dodgers really could have used an ace in that series, one that could have pitched alongside Julio Urias, Clayton Kershaw and Tyler Anderson — and that would have been Buehler.
Buehler, however, hadn’t pitched since June, and ended up having to undergo a second Tommy John surgery. The recovery for a second one is even longer, which is why Dave Roberts was noncommittal when speaking to Dodgers media at spring training about setting a date for Buehler’s return.
However, Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman recently caught up with Alanna Rizzo on MLB Network’s High Heat, and gave a slightly more concrete update on Buehler’s recovery.
“I’m not sure what the timetable is. I know that he has been working really hard. I know, like you said, he is itching to get back tomorrow but he’s been through this before. So I think he gets it as well and we’re just going to continue to take each phase of the rehab and be thoughtful about it and get him back to stay back. And so whenever that is we’ll make that decision. But I know in his mind he wants to get back this year and pitch near the end of the year and be a weapon for us in October and we’ll see what happens.”
It’s a little worrisome that the Dodgers seem unsure if Buehler will be able to make a return this season, but knowing Buehler, he’ll do whatever it takes to get back in time to make an impact in this postseason this year.
Buehler has already begun throwing from 60 feet, and hopefully he continues to improve to be able to return sometime in September.
On the flip side, though, the last thing the Dodgers want to do is rush him and put him at risk for another serious injury. Buehler is still just 28 years old, and the Dodgers hope that he has a long career ahead of him in this uniform.
They need to be extra careful rushing him back to ensure, like Friedman said, he’s able to get back and stay back. While it would be nice to have Buehler back this October, it would be even nicer to have him for the next decade. So while I do expect him to pitch this season, I also expect the Dodgers to be very careful with his recovery.
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