Walker Buehler was not sharp in his first outing. In that March 31st contest, the Dodgers were lucky to perform the narrow escape in an 8-7 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Now, with Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill healing from various injuries, the Dodgers have a ‘problem’. However, most teams would pay good money to have a surplus of capable starting pitching. Still – with a problem in place – there needs to be a viable solution.
Within this post, we take a look at whether or not it would be wise for the Dodgers to move Buehler to the bullpen for the time being.
Buehler Was Not Given Proper Ramp-Up Time
While Buehler threw a few extended bullpen sessions and simulated games alike, he made just one spring training start. Furthermore, that start went just 2 and 2/3 innings. Indeed, the Dodgers wanted to keep the workload light for Buehler. But did they do enough to prepare him for his sophomore season? Remember, Buehler said he wanted to throw 200 innings this season. With that in mind – did the Dodgers prepare him properly before throwing him into the starting rotation role?
Without question, I believe that Buehler’s short and long-term role is at the top of the starting rotation. However, it’s not completely crazy to think about letting him work out some kinks in the bullpen with some side sessions in between depending on when he’s called upon. Then, the Dodgers could look to move Buehler back into the rotation when another injury happens or when they feel his stuff is completely crisp.
Buehler Moving To The Bullpen Would Eliminate Innings-Limit Concern
It’s no secret that the Dodgers would like to keep Buehler’s innings down in 2019. While no official number has been reported, it would be no surprise if he’s somewhere in between his 2018 total (137.1) and his goal for 2019 (200).
A month or six-week move to the pen would alleviate this issue entirely.
Still, there are two points worth making. First, no matter how well Buehler performs; he still needs to return to the rotation. Second, the argument can definitely be made that a player could face struggles with being yanked in and out of a rotation. For instance, Buehler returned last season from time off to relieve against the Chicago Cubs. He did not fare well in that lone outing.
I’m still willing to bet on the talent of Walker Buehler in any role he’s put in for an extended period. These items work themselves out – and to insert him in the pen could keep the Dodgers from skipping his starts down the stretch during a pennant race.
Buehler Provides the Dodgers with an Electric Weapon Late in Games
Definitely, this is the reason I thought to write the post. The Dodgers would be undefeated right now if not for a shaky pen. I think guys like Joe Kelly and Pedro Baez find their way and are firing on all cylinders come tournament time. I’m intrigued by the idea of Buehler getting the toughest three outs in a game in the 8th or even the 9th when Kenley Jansen needs a breather.
Buehler’s profile and stuff could play up in a set-up or closer role pretty easily. He has the intensity, fire, and make-up of a closer. Tell me he wouldn’t want the ball with the game on the line? While the Dodgers see how the rotation health and performance of others works out, this gives them a chance to utilize Buehler in the best way.
Don’t forget: the Dodgers were kicking around the idea of using Kershaw and Buehler in the same game to a degree. Using Buehler as the relief ace just seems like a more effective practice; at least to this writer.
Weigh In With Your Thoughts!
What do you think of the idea of Walker Buehler in the Dodgers bullpen? Also, is there a reason above that I missed which makes him a strong case for the role temporarily? Do you agree or disagree with my wild idea? I want your thoughts in the comments below, so let me have it!
[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/cody-bellinger-bombs-chronicling-dodgers-home-run-69/2019/04/04/” type=”big”] Cody Bellinger’s Grand Slam off MadBum[/button]