Dodgers fans were starting to worry about Walker Buehler a little bit. Not only was he starting to show signs of fatigue on his velocity, but the results just have not been there for the last couple of starts. With the postseason looming, the concern grew with each start.
Entering Tuesday’s start, Buehler was carrying a 7.32 ERA in 4 starts in September. That’s exactly what the Dodgers didn’t need from one of their best starters down the stretch. But Tuesday against the Padres was different.
Buehler came out and attacked the zone early, finishing up with 90 pitches and 59 strikes. He walked 2 and struck out 5 while allowing just 3 hits. The Dodgers pitcher spoke after the game about one change: going back to the basics.
For me, it’s trying to be myself and do what I do well. For me, that’s the four-seam fastball. Got back to that a little bit tonight. Sometimes you can get in a weird place where you’re trying to do too much, do too many things at once, instead of trying to be really good at one thing. It felt good to throw a lot of heaters, get into some good counts, get guys out on the pitches that I wanted to.
Buehler went to his 4-seam fastball almost 10 percent more than has throughout the season. While the whiff percentage on that pitch was down, Buehler didn’t allow much hard contact on it. He kept pounding the zone with it and induced 8 balls in play on 20 swings.
Attacking the zone has been part of his problem in the month of September. He only walked 5 across his last 4 starts, but he got that pitch count up early and often. If he chooses to choose this route for the postseason, Buehler could pitch DEEP into games.
That could be huge for Dave Roberts and his bullpen.