Dodgers postseason ace Walker Buehler is as ready as he’s ever been for the start of the regular season. In 2019 and 2020, Buehler wasn’t stretched out enough to take on a full workload for the first part of the season. That is not the case this year according to pitching coach Mark Prior.
Prior joined AM570’s David Vassegh on Dodger Talk to discuss what he expects out of Buehler this April. He also touched on Buehler’s previous preseason struggles.
“Walker’s had a couple Spring Trainings, well I guess Summer Camp last year and Spring Training 2019, where he was nicked up in the beginning of those camps. You’re just trying to get him built up enough to be able to pitch in a regular season game. Even at that, he would have been four innings and five innings and you’re still doing the buildup. It puts a lot of pressure on the team to backfill those innings.”
Since Buehler didn’t throw much between last year’s Spring Training and Summer Camp, the Dodgers had to be meticulous about his ramp-up.
Buehler didn’t have a 6 inning outing in 2020 until his fifth start. He averaged just 4.2 IP in his eight regular season starts overall in 2020.
This season, Prior stated there isn’t an early season pitch limit for the young flamethrower.
“He knows that he’s fully built up. He can turn it loose. There’s not going to be any governing of ‘hey, you only have 60 pitches’…from a workload standpoint, he’s full go once we get started here this weekend.”
Buehler had a bumpy 2021 Spring Training (7.94 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 17.0 IP), but clearly he and the Dodgers are pleased with where his arm strength is this opening weekend compared to previous years.
The righty will get his first start of the season on Saturday against Jon Gray and the Colorado Rockies.