Despite a game that ended dramatically and with a Dodgers win, Walker Buehler had an underwhelming line of 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 3 SO, 3 BB, and 76 P. Buehler, known for his ‘big game’ reputation, did not have the kind of start he and Dodger fans were hoping for. Luckily, Cody Bellinger pinata’d a high heater into the right-field seats in the 8th, and the rest was a Dodger W.
While Walker’s line wasn’t pretty, the numbers don’t quite tell the story of a wildly unfortunate 4th inning. In the inning, Gavin Lux, playing centerfield, dropped a ball that went as a double. The home plate umpire missed a strike 3 call on Joc Pederson. And Corey Seager narrowly missed snagging a ball to his right at shortstop.
After the game, Buehler was asked in particular about the Lux misplay in center field. Here’s the play in question, first.
After the game, Buehler was asked if this missed fly ball was a distraction or an issue. Buehler responded with an admirable show of respect and defense of his younger teammate.
“That inning is on me, not on him, not on the umpire, not on anything like that.”
Buehler took it a step further to illustrate how much confidence he and the team have in Lux.
“At the end of the day I have the ball in my hand, and me and Will (Smith) kind of control the game and control what we want to do, and I didn’t execute a lot of pitches after that. It is what it is.
Gavin is extremely talented and has been put in a position that’s extremely difficult, in that he’s playing a position he’s never played before in September and now into the playoffs. Talking to him after, I think he’s going to learn a lot just on how to make that specific play, and it just so happens that it happens at this time of year, and everyone’s going to be watching it. Gavin’s confident enough and talented enough to handle that kind of stuff.”
Buehler has always been talented at doing interviews. His stepping in front of Lux to take the shoulder of the responsibility away from him is the sign of a true leader and a good teammate.
Skipper Dave Roberts also showed support for Lux, but he also tried to treat Lux like a veteran and expressed that Lux thought he should have made the play, despite its difficulty.
“I know that it’s a play that Gavin expects to make,” Roberts said. “There’s the wall. There’s some sun … Gavin won’t make any excuses. It’s a play that I know like I said, he knows he should make.”
By Buehler showing support for Lux’s performance by taking the responsibility himself, and manager Dave Roberts showing support but also expressing that Lux is good enough to make the play–that’s a sign of true confidence and respect. The Dodgers know Lux is a talented fielder despite being new to the position. The confidence and respect in his ability to make the play the next time will be a good motivator for Lux.