Not every team gets an old school player in a young body the way the Dodgers’ do in Walker Buehler. Every fifth day of the week, fans in Los Angeles can expect flamethrowing right-hander to come out and outwork everyone on the field. And he does it in a way that gets everyone fired up. But for 2020, Buehler has one very old school personal goal.
I want to pitch 200 innings. That was my goal last year. That will be my goal this year. You have to pitch pretty well to get there. Two hundred innings is my goal, always has been. Maybe if I do it, I’ll change it. But that’s it.
An interesting goal for a young guy like Buehler, but it also makes sense. Buehler had Tommy John surgery right out of college, so he’s always had to be on a sort of innings limit in his professional career.
Last season, Buehler ended up at 182.1 innings pitched for the Dodgers, the most of his young career. He went 14-4 with a 3.26 ERA and 215 strikeouts. If he can stay healthy all year long it’s not difficult to imagine him reaching that goal. Buehler started 30 games in 2019, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him reach 32 or 33 in 2020.
Manager Dave Roberts knows what he has in Walker Buehler, and cannot wait to see what he can do.
You just really don’t know how good Walker can be. Obviously, the big games that he’s pitched in and how he’s responded is very telling. But I think for all of us it’s getting to see what’s next.
And boy has he ever pitched in big games. Buehler started a pivotal game 163 against the Rockies in 2018, in which he pitched 6.2 innings of shutout baseball to help the Dodgers clinch a division title. In the 2019 Division Series, Buehler started two games and pitched 12.2 innings allowed just one earned run. Not to mention the 7 shutout innings he threw against the Red Sox in the 2018 World Series.
The Dodgers have found their ace of the future, and he is ready to hit his first major goal in 2020.