When Walker Buehler first came up with the Dodgers, he dazzled with a lethal arsenal. The hard-throwing right-hander seemed to be able to strikeout hitters at will. Although he’s only been a full-time starter since 2018, Buehler has already logged two seasons with at least 200 strikeouts. After finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 2021, the new ace of the Dodgers staff entered 2022 with lofty expectations.
So far, Buehtane has not met those expectations. His strikeout rate this season (19.1%) is the lowest of his Dodgers career and opposing batters have been feasting on his fastball. Quite simply, he just hasn’t been the dominant force that fans were anticipating.
Have those expectations led to fans and the rest of the baseball world underrated the 2022 version of Walker Buehler?
Through Saturday, Buehler’s 2.91 ERA ranks 21st in all of baseball. His sub-3.00 ERA hasn’t just been luck either. His 3.19 FIP ranks 22nd.
Despite admittedly not having his fastball dialed in, Buehler has still been productive as a starter. He has yet to pitch fewer than five innings in any start and is one of just three pitchers to throw a complete game shutout this season.
Opposing batters are hitting .367 off of his heater and he’s still top 25 in ERA.
How many pitchers in this league can produce a sub-3.00 ERA without their primary pitch working? The list is probably pretty short.
Even without his fastball fully operational, he’s been able to keep the ball in the yard. Buehler ranks 10th in home runs allowed and owns the fifth-lowest barrel percentage (4.3%) according to FanGraphs.
Despite an uneven start to the season, Buehler still has all of the talent and ability to make a push for his first Cy Young award this season.
This isn’t the Walker Buehler we’re used to seeing, but the best is yet to come in 2022 for Walker Buehler.
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