Last year, Walker Buehler was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. This year, Buehler has struggled to find his consistency. On Saturday night against the Mets at Dodger Stadium, Buehler failed to complete three innings of work before being pulled.
Walker gave up five earned runs including two home runs as the Mets boat raced the Dodgers to a 9-4 victory. After the game, Buehler talked about how he was encouraged by his four-seam fastball velocity in the outing, despite the end result (quotes via OCR’s Bill Plunkett).
“I just kind of keep bouncing around between what they’re hitting. At some point, it’s not about one thing or one bad pitch. … It was definitely kind of encouraging for me at one point, the fastball velocity being there and I was able to throw it where I wanted it a little bit more. … At some point, you’ve got to take the little victories.”
Buehler is going to need a lot of little victories, and his fastball, to return to Cy Young-worthy form. This year, opponents have hammered his four-seamer. Opposing hitters are batting .386 against his heater and have slugged a mind-boggling .643.
Despite Buehler not performing up to his own sky-high standard, manager Dave Roberts is confident that the ace of the staff will turn it around this season.
“He’s going to work it out. He’s going to figure it out. I have all the confidence in that.”
The Dodgers have two-off days this week so they might shuffle the rotation a bit, but Buehler will probably get a shot at redemption next weekend in San Francisco. In eight career appearances at Oracle Park, Buehler owns a 3.35 ERA.
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