WALKER Anthony BUEHLER
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Nickname:   N/A Position:   RHP
Home: N/A Team:   DODGERS
Height: 6' 2" Bats:   R
Weight: 185 Throws:   R
DOB: 7/28/1994 Agent: N/A
Uniform #: 21  
Birth City: Lexington, KY
Draft: Dodgers #1 - 2015 - Out of Vanderbilt Univ. (TN)
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G IP H SO BB GS CG SHO SV W L OBA ERA
2015 DL DL - Tommy John                            
2016 DL DL - Tommy John                            
2016 MWL GREAT LAKES   2 3 0 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0   0.00
2016 AZL AZL-Dodgers   1 2 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0   0.00
2017 PCL OKLAHOMA CITY   12 23.1 19 34 11 3 0 0 1 1 1   4.63
2017 TL TULSA   11 49 40 64 15 11 0 0 0 2 2   3.49
2017 CAL RANCHO CUCAMONGA   5 16.1 8 27 5 5 0 0 0 0 0   1.10
2017 NL DODGERS   8 9.1 11 12 8 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.306 7.71
2018 CAL RANCHO CUCAMONGA   1 3 2 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 0   3.00
2018 PCL OKLAHOMA CITY   3 13 10 16 4 3 0 0 0 1 0   2.08
2018 NL DODGERS   24 137.1 95 151 37 23 0 0 0 8 5 0.193 2.62
2019 NL DODGERS $570.00 30 182.1 153 215 37 30 2 0 0 14 4 0.223 3.26
2020 NL DODGERS $224.00 8 36.2 24 42 11 8 0 0 0 1 0 0.178 3.44
Today's Game Notes
  • Oct 23, 2020: Walker Buehler is lined up to pitch Game 7 if he isn’t already home celebrating the Dodgers’ first World Series championship in 32 years.

    Buehler pitched the Dodgers a big step closer to their drought-ending goal with a 6-2 win over the Rays in Game 3 of the World Series at Globe Life Field. The Dodgers hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven showdown after Buehler flashed the big-stage dominance of Orel Hershiser in 1988, Sandy Koufax in ‘63 and ‘65, and Johnny Podres in ‘55.

    None of those heroes lacked confidence and neither does Buehler, who’s fearless when the lights shine brightest.

    “I think the more you do these things, the calmer you get,” Buehler said. “I don’t want to keep harping on it, but I enjoy doing this, and I feel good in these spots.

    This victory didn’t clinch a title and Buehler was allowed to work only six innings, but he was masterful, becoming the first pitcher to strike out 10 in a World Series start of six innings or fewer. He allowed one run on three hits with a walk, had a no-hitter through 4 1/3 innings and made 93 pitches.

    At 26 years and 87 days, Buehler is the youngest pitcher with a 10-strikeout World Series game since Josh Beckett in Game 3 in 2003 (23 years and 159 days).

    “That might have been the best I've ever seen his stuff, really,” said catcher Austin Barnes, who has been behind the plate for Buehler’s last two overpowering outings.

    Statcast agrees with Barnes. Buehler’s strikeout of Ji-Man Choi in the second inning was on a four-seamer with a 2,856-rpm spin rate, the fastest of Buehler’s career for that pitch.

    Buehler is already being compared with the franchise’s World Series pitching heroes, because he’s already building a World Series resume.

  • In 2018 against the Red Sox, he threw seven scoreless innings with two hits in the 18-inning marathon that Max Muncy won with a walk-off homer. Buehler is only the seventh Dodger with a 10-strikeout World Series game, joining Koufax (three times), Don Newcombe, Sal Maglie, Clayton Kershaw, Carl Erskine and Don Drysdale. He has the first World Series start with at least 10 strikeouts since Kershaw had 11 in 2017.

    Buehler is doing things in Octobers that Hall of Famers and franchise legends do.

    “I haven’t wrapped my head around all that he’s accomplished in such a short period of time,” said manager Dave Roberts. “Being a big-game pitcher and really succeeding on this stage, there’s only a few guys currently and in history. He’s in some really elite company. I’m just happy he’s wearing a Dodger uniform.

    Add in all the other postseason rounds since his arrival, and Buehler’s career mark is 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 starts. That includes last Saturday’s Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, in which he blanked the Braves over six innings. His 39 strikeouts this postseason are a franchise record for a single postseason.

    Wait, there’s more. Buehler joined Kershaw (Game 1, 2017) and Koufax (Game 7, 1965) as the only hurlers in franchise history with double-digit punchouts while not surrendering more than three hits in a World Series start.

    Buehler has 17 strikeouts in two career World Series starts, becoming the first pitcher with at least that many over his first two World Series starts since Beckett (19 in 2003). He’s also second to Gerrit Cole for lowest opponent batting average in postseason history (min. 10 starts) -- .178 to Cole's .179. (K Gurnick - MLB.com - Oct 24, 2020)

  • Oct 22, 2020: Can the Dodgers really navigate this World Series with only two experienced starting pitchers?

    That remains their intention after the 6-4 loss to the Rays at Globe Life Field in Game 2, the first bullpen game of the Series but probably not their last.

    With Walker Buehler, set to be the Game 3 starter, and Clayton Kershaw, the Game 1 winner, having started eight of the club’s 14 postseason games, the Dodgers will continue to lean heavily on those two as they try to collect four wins en route to a championship.

    But there’s little room for error within that blueprint, as was evidenced, when seven relievers combined to allow 10 hits as the Rays evened the best-of-seven series.

    Yet, with Buehler, hybrid swingman Julio Urías and Kershaw starting the next three games on adequate rest, outside panic was not shared by the manager. That’s in large part due to the emergence of Urías, who was splendid over a one-run start of five innings in the National League Championship Series and then retired the final nine batters in Game 7 to push the Dodgers back to the World Series.

    He wasn’t able to start sooner in this Series because of those three innings he pitched to save the clincher. His Game 4 start will be just his second postseason start this year.

    “We feel great,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We've got Walker going, we’ve got Julio going and then we've got Clayton. You look at kind of where our relievers are set with the off-day tomorrow, we're in a great spot.

    Optimism is Roberts’ calling card and if that part of the plan is on point, he’s right. He knows the Game 3 winner in best-of-seven series tied 1-1 has gone on to win the series 65 of 94 times (69.1%). And he’s got a flexible weapon in Urías, once handled with kid gloves but now capable of being unleashed from starter to closer. But another part of the plan is worrisome. That’s the part where the club leans heavily on rookies that pitched like veterans on the winningest team in the regular season, but are pitching like rookies with everything on the line. (K Gurnick - MLB.com - Oct 22, 2020)

  • Oct 12, 2020: Turns out Walker Buehler’s blister issue is actually a blisters issue, plural, though perhaps it’s no longer a significant one. Pitching through blisters on both his right index and middle fingers in National League Championship Series Game 1, Buehler threw 100 pitches for the first time in over a year.

    An early home run to Freddie Freeman stuck Buehler with a no-decision on a night that saw the Dodgers lose to the Braves, 5-1, at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. But if the Dodgers have their way, it won’t be the last start Buehler makes this postseason. And it doesn’t appear anything on his right hand will affect that.

    “It held up as good as we’ve seen it in the last month,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “That’s why he was able to really get to that 100-pitch mark, so I was really pleased with it.

    Roberts later clarified that “it,” singular, is not the correct way to characterize Buehler’s issue; instead, the right-hander has been dealing with multiple blisters for more than a month. The one on his middle finger affects him most when he attempts to put spin on his curveball. The one on his index finger interferes with his slider and cutter. So it was encouraging for the Dodgers to see Buehler throw those three pitches 47 percent of the time in Game 1, up from 26 percent in his NL Division Series outing against the Padres.

    “I do feel that we came out of it really well today,” Roberts said.

    It was not a curveball, a slider or a cutter that Freeman clubbed out of the park in the first inning, but a 97 mph fastball that caught enough plate for the Braves’ first baseman to reach it with his bat head. And for Buehler, that was that. He recovered to throw four more hitless innings, although a career-high five walks kept his pitch count high. When Buehler allowed consecutive hits to open the fifth, Roberts emerged from the dugout to remove him.

    “I’ve got to stop walking guys, and get deeper into games,” said Buehler, who threw exactly 100 pitches. “Nice to get into the sixth. Not nice to give up two hits in the sixth. I physically feel good, and was happy to kind of get a little bit deeper into a game, finally. But I have to do more.” (A DiComo - MLB.com - Oct 13, 2020)

Personal
  • Buehler graduated from Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Kentucky with a commitment to Vanderbilt. He was a stand-up student/athlete. He has a (weighted) GPA of 4.3 and scored a 30 on the ACT. He was also on the student council all four years.

  • Walker's father, Tony Buehler, is a commercial banker in Denver.
  • In 2014, after Walker played a crucial role in Vanderbilt’s run to the 2014 national championship, Buehler earned the Cape League postseason co-MVP honors by going 2-0, 0.00 ERA, with 13 strikeouts in 15 innings in the playoffs.

    He was an aspiring political science major with design on a career in politics.

  • June 2015: Buehler was the Dodgers 1st round pick, out of Vanderbilt, the 24th player chosen overall. He received a $1.78 million bonus, signing with scout Marty Lamb.

  • In 2016, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Buehler as the 11th-best prospect in the Dodgers organization. He missed 2017 following Tommy John surgery. They had Walker as the Dodgers #1 prospect in the spring of 2018.

  • August 23, 2017: The Dodgers named Buehler their Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

  • Walker pitched two scoreless innings in his fist MLB appearance, on 26 pitches (18 for strikes) and recorded two strikeouts, his first coming against the NL's top hitter, Charlie Blackmon, freezing him with a slider.

    As for his first strikeout ball, Buehler said the ball will go to his father.

    "My dad lived away from me most of my life," Buehler said. "As I've grown older I've become more like him. He's a big memorabilia guy. He'll get that one."  (Thornton - mlb.com - 9/7/17)

  • July 2019: Walker represented the Dodgers at the All-Star Game.

  • The story of Walker Buehler’s MLB debut

    Walker Buehler was fighting through a painful right elbow during his junior year at Vanderbilt in 2015. His hopes were to help lead the Commodores to a second straight national title. As he recalled in a 2016 interview with Dodger Insider, a fastball that sat in the 92-96 mph range when he was healthy was all over the place during his final collegiate season. It could be as high as 96 but as low as 86.

    “I thought I was better in a little bit of pain than the next guy,” Buehler recalled in 2018. “Our class was really close-knit. A lot of us were in our last year there, so I wasn’t not going to pitch.”

    When the Dodgers drafted him in the first round of the June 2015 MLB Draft, 24th overall, it wasn’t a secret that the elbow wasn’t right. And that August, Buehler had a ligament removed from his wrist to replace a damaged ulnar collateral ligament. The day before the surgery, then-Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi told MLB.com: “We still think he’s one of the top pitching talents in the draft, and we have the luxury of being able to play the long game. Even if it puts him a year behind, we feel he can come back and justify where we selected him.”

    Walker Buehler’s professional career might have started with a loss, but a victory followed. Originally told it would take 14 months for him to be back and competing in a game after Tommy John surgery, it took him 12.

    On Aug. 10, 2016, in front of his father who flew in from Colorado and his Cape Cod League host family who was in town, Buehler made his pro debut at Camelback Ranch in Arizona for the Dodgers’ Rookie League team. (Baseball Reference shows a July 7 debut with Low-A Great Lakes — however, that’s because the game was suspended on July 7 and continued on Sept. 3 when Buehler actually appeared.)

    Buehler struck out three of the six batters he faced and retired them all. He was promoted to Great Lakes in late September and pitched in the team’s run to the Midwest League championship.

    “I kind of got lucky — the first team I play for wins a title,” Buehler said to Dodger Insider that winter. “It’s not everything you hope for or gets you the year back, but it mends the wounds.”

    Innings/pitch limit be damned, Buehler was big league bound in 2017.

    After five starts in High-A Rancho Cucamonga and 11 in Double-A Tulsa, he was in Triple-A Oklahoma City on July 20, appearing to be groomed for a tryout in September for the Dodgers’ postseason roster. The LA Dodgers were 66–30 on July 20. Coming into Sept. 6, they were 92–46 with an 11 ½ game lead in the National League West.

    The Callup

    On Sept. 6, the Dodgers called up Buehler. Because he wasn’t on the 40-man roster, they needed to make room. The team designated right-handed pitcher Fabio Castillo for assignment. Castillo, at 28 years old, had just been called up to a Major League roster for the first time in his career on Sept. 1. He made two appearances — Sept. 2: a scoreless 1 1/3 innings and Sept. 3: two earned runs in an appearance where he didn’t get an out. He pitched in Japan the last two seasons.

    The Game

    There have been only 13 starts in Clayton Kershaw’s career in which he has lasted 3 2/3 innings or fewer. That accounts for 3.8% of his career starts. Sept. 7, 2017, at Dodger Stadium was one of those games.

    It was completely out of character — three walks, a wild pitch, four earned runs. Fourteen pitches into the game, he was down 3–0 after surrendering a home run to Nolan Arenado.

    With two outs in the fourth inning, Kershaw was pulled. The Dodgers used five pitchers through seven innings and were down 9–1.

    In the eighth, they turned to Buehler for his Major League debut. The first batter he faced, Carlos González, singled to left field. Then, Buehler got out of the frame with a double-play grounder and a groundout.

    In the top of the ninth, he struck out Charlie Blackmon looking. Then the same with Alexi Amarista. Ryan McMahon then grounded out. His final line: two innings, one hit, no runs, two strikeouts, 26 pitches, 18 strikes.

    “Everyone here has ability,” Buehler said that night. “Everyone here’s worked really hard. I don’t think I’m any different in any aspect of that. The (Tommy John) surgery benefitted me in more ways than one. My arm works different now than it did.”

    Meaning, Buehler threw harder after the surgery than before. Buehler’s sixth pitch that night hit 100 mph on the radar gun.

    “At the back end of the game, the one highlight was obviously Walker Buehler,” manager Dave Roberts said that night. “To see him break in like that, just the presence, the command of all his pitches, it just looked right. That was really exciting for us.”

    Epilogue

    Buehler was hit hard by the Rockies in his second outing. In eight 2017 games (9 1/3 innings), he allowed eight earned runs. He didn’t make a postseason roster for a team that reached the World Series.

    But the next year, he was one of the bright stars of the World Series. After one of the greatest seasons ever by a Dodger rookie starting pitcher (including a Game 163 in which he dominated the Rockies to help the Dodgers clinch the NL West), Buehler became the third starting pitcher in World Series history to go at least seven innings and allow two or fewer hits with at least seven strikeouts and no walks. He did so in a magnificent Game 3 of the 2018 World Series.

    Buehler is an ace-in-the-making. He was a first-time All-Star in 2019. And at 25 years old, he is on the cusp of becoming one of the game’s great pitchers. (Cary Osborne - June 26, 2020)

  • Sept. 5, 2020: The Dodgers have become so adept at winning baseball games, they are now conquering other sports.

    During their game against the Rockies Saturday night, Hall of Fame thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert revealed that Dodgers starting pitcher and Lexington, Ky., native Walker Buehler has a microshare ownership in Authentic, who is trained by Baffert and who won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

    Baffert said Buehler and former skiing great Bode Miller are among more than 4,000 micro-owners in Authentic through the MyRaceHorse.com syndication. (Ken Gurnick)



  • Buehler grew up a Cincinnati Reds fan.
Pitching
  • Buehler has a 94-100 mph FASTBALL that quickly jumps on the hitter and gets him a lot of groundballs and a great 80 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale. Walker has a devastating 81-84 mph power nose-to-toes/12-to-6 CURVEBALL with a 60 grade and hard downer 12-to-6 action. He has a plus an 90-93 mph SLIDER that also grades 60 with late tilt that he can throw for a strike or bury as a chase pitch. He also has a 45 grade CHANGEUP with good fading action that he has feel for, and is effective retiring lefty hitters. He has 55 grade control.

    Walker's stuff is as good as virtually anyone in the minors.

    “It’s in the top group of all the arms I’ve seen,” one scout said during the 2017 season. “He’s got No. 1-type starter stuff. He’s got four pitches that all have a chance to be average or better. Everything was electric. Everything was a swing-and-miss pitch.”

    Buehler sits in the high 90s in most of his starts, but what is equally notable is how well he controls his pitches. He has present average control, according to the scout, with the chance to be a little better than that eventually.

    “His arm is fast, easy and loose,” the scout said. “He’s a future No. 1.”

  • 2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 41.6% of the time; Sinker 16.8%; Change 3.6%; Slider 10.6%; Curve 14.1%; and Cutter 13.3% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 96.9 mph, Sinker 96.6, Change 90.7, Slider 86.6, Curve 80.9, and Cutter 92.3 mph.

  • 2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 53.1% of the time; Sinker 7%; Change less than 1%; Slider 13.8%; Curve 12.3%; and Cutter 13.4% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 96.9 mph, Sinker 96.8, Change 91.8, Slider 87.1, Curve 81, and Cutter 92.9 mph.

  • Walker has a smooth delivery, a clean arm action, and is a polished righthander. It is a loose, athletic delivery that enables Buehler to pound the strike zone.

  • Buehler just naturally throws strikes, pounding the zone. He gets a 55 grade for his a bit-above-average control.

  • Buehler is at least a #2 starter, if the not the ace of a staff.

  • Walker raises both hands above his head, a change he made in his delivery as a junior at Vanderbilt after he read that almost all Hall of Fame pitchers did so.

    For the next few beats he looked just like Justin Verlander -- body tucked tight as if off a high dive, front foot under the hamstring of the raised front leg before it kicked out as thearm pulled back and the shoulders tilted, as if aiming for the mezzanine. This is how Papa showed him how to do it.

    Buehler called his maternal grandfather, Papa. Dave walker was his first pitching coach, an engineering savant from the oil business in eastern Kentucky. Papa grew up in Alba, Michigan as a Tigers fan. If he was going to teach his grandson how to throw, then the Detroit ace was going to be his template. The boy learned Verlander well.

    "Snake eyes!" Papa would yell. "Snake eyes!"

    Papa said it sooooo many times that to this day, Walker still hears Papa's voice. Snake eyes is the metaphor for the ideal position of the fingernails of his first two finger on his fastball grip. "Having your fingers on top of the ball instead of out to the side," Buehler explained. "I spin the ball pretty well, not crazy, but well enough, and I think that's where it came from. Him saying that forever definitely didn't hurt.

    "One of the biggest key I pay attention to is throwing first-pitch strikes. When you do that you control the count and you pitch deep into games. That's what I want to do very time.

    "Selfishly, I really like punching guys out," Walker says. "That's like my thing. That's what I enjoy doing, Il like pitching, I like all of it....But if I have to pick one thing I like best -- I like punching guys out."

    Buehler has what scouts call "pitchability," -- the genius to know how to shape and use six pitches, all of which he can tweak in a moment's notice.

  • May 4, 2018: The pitching legacy of the Dodgers stretches for the better part of a century, and Walker Buehler took his rightful place in it after just his third Major League start.

    The rookie did the heavy lifting in the first combined no-hitter in Dodgers history. His six electric innings in the rain were followed by one each from Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia, and Adam Liberatore in a 4-0 win over the Padres in the opener of the Mexico Series.

    It was the 23rd no-hitter in Dodgers history, but the first combined. The last Dodgers no-no was thrown by Clayton Kershaw on June 18, 2014, against Colorado.

    Fittingly, it was the greatest Mexican Dodger ever, Fernando Valenzuela, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Valenzuela threw his no-hitter for the Dodgers in 1990 against the Cardinals. (Ken Gurnick- MLB.com)

  • Oct 26, 2018: Buehler etched his name in the record books with one of the most impressive performances in franchise history in Game 3 of the World Series. His first pitch was clocked at 97.9 mph. Seven innings later, Buehler's 108th and final pitch hit 98.2 mph. In between, Buehler dominated the Red Sox, and his teammates finally put Boston away with a 3-2 victory in 18 innings to cut the Sox's series lead to two games to one.

    "There have been a few games when I had similar feelings, but obviously, this one tops the list," Buehler said.

    Buehler's 26 pitches in the first were the most thrown in a 1-2-3 inning in postseason history. He also became the youngest Dodgers pitcher to throw six or more scoreless innings in a World Series game since Johnny Podres did it in 1955. In addition, Buehler joins Roger Clemens (Game 2, 2000) and Don Larsen (Game 5, 1956) as the only pitchers to throw seven or more scoreless innings while allowing two hits or fewer without any walks in a World Series game.

    "I just got into some good counts and made pitches when I needed to," Buehler said. "It's how we have been all year. Obviously, being down 2-0, and people [were] saying our backs are against the wall, but we've been here and done that before." Overall, the hard-throwing rookie allowed only two hits and struck out seven in seven scoreless innings, reaching a career-high pitch count. Buehler was replaced by Kenley Jansen in the eighth with his team up, 1-0.

    Buehler, who also threw 100 pitches against the Brewers in Game 3 of the NLCS, joins Justin Verlander, who fired 102 pitches in Game 1 of the ALDS, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed 104 pitches in Game 1 of the NLDS, on the short list of starters to throw 100 pitches or more during this postseason.

    "We needed his best effort, and we needed him to go deeper than their starter, log some innings," manager Dave Roberts said. "And some guys run from it. Some guys can't answer the bell. But this guy, he's got an overt confidence, a quiet confidence, a little combo. He's got tremendous stuff, and he lives for moments like this." (J Sanchez - MLB.com - Oct 27, 2018)

    Buehler entered last season with as much hype as any prospect arm, and he managed to exceed it while becoming the Dodgers’ 1-A ace. Command, aggression and premium heat helped Buehler stifle opposing offenses down to a microscopic—and downright historic—number of walks and hits per inning.

    Live-ball era rookie starters with a sub-1.00 WHIP (Min. 120 IP): 1) Dick Hughes (1967): 0.95, 2) Buehler (2018): 0.96, 3) Jose Fernandez (2013): 0.98.

    Hughes helped the Cardinals win the 1967 World Series, then tore his rotator cuff and was done as a Major Leaguer the following season. The late Fernandez underwent Tommy John surgery after his incredible NL Rookie of the Year campaign.

  • June 21, 2019: Walker Buehler struck out 16 batters which was the most by a Dodger since 1996.

  • July 21, 2019 outing for the Dodgers: “The fastball lane was consistent on the glove side,” said manager Dave Roberts. “[Buehler] was commanding the down-and-away low dart to the right-handed hitter. The cutter and breaking ball off that. Getting ahead all day. He could essentially do whatever he wanted.”

  • Aug 7, 2019: Walker Buehler's breakout hasn't stopped. Why would it? He's got high-90s heat, two wipeout breaking balls, a cutter he's taken to the next level, and command of the whole package. The Dodgers' 25-year-old ace-in-the-making has 152 strikeouts this season; he's walked only 20. He leads the Majors in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 7.60.

    Buehler has already delivered a pair of the 2019 season's biggest gems: two starts with 15-plus strikeouts and zero walks, a feat only Pedro Martinez (in 1999 and 2000) and Dwight Gooden (in 1984) have achieved twice in a year.

    Here's how he's doing it.

  • GETTING THE K'S

    Buehler is throwing more four-seamers.

    Stop us if this sounds familiar (Hi, Astros!). Buehler has mostly pocketed his two-seam fastball in favor of four-seamers.

    This season, he's throwing 54.4% four-seam fastballs and just 6.6% two-seamers. Last year, when he moved into the Dodgers' rotation, Buehler was using much more of a mix: 40.8% four-seamers and 18.8% two-seamers. It's not that his two-seamer is ineffective; it's actually gotten excellent results, too, like most of what he throws. But the four-seamer is more of a strikeout pitch, especially when it's the high-velocity, high-spin variety at Buehler's fingertips. (He has a 96.6 mph average velo and 2,440 rpm average spin rate ... MLB average is 93.4 mph and 2,286 rpm.) Buehler's four-seamer gets +2.3 inches of "rise" above average. His two-seamer doesn't have nearly as much movement.

    Buehler has recorded 71 of his 152 strikeouts on four-seam fastballs in 2019. But his secondary stuff is better, too.

  • Buehler's breaking balls are sharper.

    Buehler has added over 100 rpm of spin on both his curveball and slider. His curveball spin rate has increased from 2,757 rpm in 2018 to 2,892 rpm in '19 -- higher than over 90% of the league (MLB average curveball spin is 2,521 rpm). His slider spin rate has increased from 2,761 rpm to 2,862 rpm.

    Both pitches are moving more. On his curveball, Buehler has added about an inch more of both horizontal and vertical movement relative to average. On his slider, he's added about two inches in both horizontal and vertical movement relative to average.

    The swings-and-misses, chases out of the strike zone and strikeout numbers have shot up on both pitches. That sure doesn't look like an accident.

    Those same metrics have improved in kind on his cutter, even with little difference in its shape. Buehler's swing-and-miss rate on his cutter has leaped from 18.2% to 26.0%, his chase rate from 23.0% to 40.3%, and his strikeout rate from 12.5% to 22.6%. Those are major increases on an already-wicked pitch that sits in the low-to-mid-90s with movement. And it might be a ripple effect from the change in the breaking pitches. 

  • PREVENTING WALKS

    Buehler is working ahead.

    Barely one in five pitches Buehler has thrown this season have been with him behind in the count. He's cut that number each year, from 29.2% of his pitches as a September callup in 2017 to 23.7% of his pitches last season, to 21.9% of his pitches this season.

    In fact, Buehler gets ahead of hitters at one of the highest rates in baseball. Over a third of his pitches thrown have been while he's ahead in the count, ranking third in MLB among regular starters. You're not going to walk many guys if you follow that recipe.

    Highest % of pitches thrown while ahead in the count, 2019Min. 1,500 total pitches (104 pitchers)1) Chris Paddack (SD): 37.4%2) Max Scherzer (WSH): 36.8%3) Walker Buehler (LAD): 34.2%4) Jose Berrios (MIN): 34.0%5) Gerrit Cole (HOU): 33.9%

    Buehler has also tightened up his pitch selection in different types of counts.

    When he does fall behind now, he uses his four-seamer to get back into the count, or sometimes his cutter, which has become more of a weapon for him (13.4% usage, compared to 7.7% in 2018). Last year, Buehler's pitch types were more spread out across his arsenal even when he was behind.

    And when he gets ahead, he buries hitters with his two breaking balls -- without forgetting about his overpowering four-seamer, of course. Buehler's curve, slider and primary heater have made up a heavier share of what he throws in those putaway two-strike counts.

    You don't get 15-strikeout, no-walk outings without serious stuff and sharp execution. Buehler is harnessing some of the best stuff in the game. He's a star. (D Adler - MLB.com - Aug 8, 2019)

  • Sept 27, 2019: Most pitchers headed to the postseason use their final regular-season start for a tuneup. Walker Buehler used it for tinkering. Although the Dodgers battered the Giants 9-2 -- to tie for the most wins in Los Angeles history at 104 -- Buehler struggled through five innings. He struck out eight but walked four, allowed two runs and five hits and made 104 pitches.

    “It’s not a panic thing,” said Buehler. “This is what I do. I tinker. When I give myself something new to think about, it simplifies things for me.

    A year ago, Buehler’s final regular-season start was his clutch Game 163 victory over Colorado that clinched the division. There was no talk of tinkering back then. Buehler, however, said some of what he took into this lats game came off video of that Game 163.

    “I’m kind of tinkering with some stuff and trying to figure some little things out,” he said. “Been a little inconsistent and kind of found a little something there. Trying to speed up and put myself in a position to be a little more athletic. For now it’s going to be a little inconsistent and that’s fine, that’s why we work the way we do. I feel like I threw some really good pitches and some really bad pitches and just trying to find some consistency.”

    Why tinker with mechanics on the eve of the postseason? Because Buehler allowed six earned runs over 11 innings in his previous two starts.

    “The past two starts I wasn’t super happy about and I’m going to look at some stuff and figure out a plan to find a different feel,” he said. “I’m a one-feel guy, try to find a feel for every delivery and if that one feel is not working, I’ll try a different one.”

    Buehler changed his windup to keep his hands in front instead of over his head, a device manager Dave Roberts explained would allow his arm to catch up with his lower body.

    “It was all about command,” Roberts said. “The tempo was considerably quicker than it has been. That was kind of intentional. I think his arm had a hard time catching up tonight. Spraying the fastball, getting behind. But in the zone, it was really good. It didn’t allow for efficiency. For him to get through five was a good thing.

    “Walker said he figured some things out in the fifth inning. He’s got good body and mechanical awareness. We’ve got time to get him dialed back in.” (K Gurnick - MLB.com - Sept 28, 2019)

  • 2019 Season: Buehler is the undisputed future ace of the Dodgers, if he isn’t already the current one. At just 25, he’s an All-Star with a 14-win season on the resume and has demonstrated he has the chops for October with a 0.853 postseason WHIP. This is what management expected when it made him a first-round pick in the 2015 Draft, even though he already showed symptoms of a torn right ulnar collateral ligament that later required Tommy John surgery.

    He was handled carefully in '17 and '18 before the wraps came off last year, when he was allowed to throw 195 big league innings (including postseason) even after a Spring Training arm issue. Future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw was named the Opening Day starter this year by manager Dave Roberts, but Roberts gave Buehler the ball for Game 1 of last year's National League Division Series against the Nationals. (Steve Gilbert - Apr. 3, 2020)

  • Oct 23, 2020: Buehler pitched the Dodgers a big step closer to their drought-ending goal with a 6-2 win over the Rays in Game 3 of the World Series at Globe Life Field. The Dodgers hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven showdown after Buehler flashed the big-stage dominance of Orel Hershiser in 1988, Sandy Koufax in ‘63 and ‘65, and Johnny Podres in ‘55.

    None of those heroes lacked confidence and neither does Buehler, who’s fearless when the lights shine brightest.

    “I think the more you do these things, the calmer you get,” Buehler said. “I don’t want to keep harping on it, but I enjoy doing this, and I feel good in these spots.

    This victory didn’t clinch a title and Buehler was allowed to work only six innings, but he was masterful, becoming the first pitcher to strike out 10 in a World Series start of six innings or fewer. He allowed one run on three hits with a walk, had a no-hitter through 4 1/3 innings and made 93 pitches.

    At 26 years and 87 days, Buehler is the youngest pitcher with a 10-strikeout World Series game since Josh Beckett in Game 3 in 2003 (23 years and 159 days).

    Add in all the other postseason rounds since his arrival, and Buehler’s career mark is 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 starts. That includes last Saturday’s Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, in which he blanked the Braves over six innings. His 39 strikeouts this postseason are a franchise record for a single postseason.

    Wait, there’s more. Buehler joined Kershaw (Game 1, 2017) and Koufax (Game 7, 1965) as the only hurlers in franchise history with double-digit punchouts while not surrendering more than three hits in a World Series start.

    Buehler has 17 strikeouts in two career World Series starts, becoming the first pitcher with at least that many over his first two World Series starts since Beckett (19 in 2003). He’s also second to Gerrit Cole for lowest opponent batting average in postseason history (min. 10 starts) -- .178 to Cole's .179. (K Gurnick - MLB.com - Oct 24, 2020)

  • As of the start of the 2021 season, Walker had a career record of 24-9 with a 3.15 ERA, having allowed 283 hits and 41 home runs in 365 innings.

Career Injury Report
  • Spring 2015: Elbow soreness delayed Buehler's start to his junior season at Vanderbilt, but he pitched well when he rejoined the Commodores rotation, and helped him to the College World Series finals.

  • August 5, 2015: Buehler underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and will be out 12 to 18 months, the Dodgers announced.

    The rehab is daunting, even before he ever steps on a mound. It entails day after day, month after month of tedious physical therapy and rehab activities with no prospect of actual competition until, possibly, spring of 2017. But Buehler said he has resigned himself to the long process.

    “I don’t think you have any choice but to be ready for it,” he said. “You do the rehab to the best of your abilities and hope it all works out. I’m good with it.

    “It’s tough because you get drafted and you want to get momentum going and kind of jump out of the chute, but you’re down for a year . . . I think it’s more of mental challenge than it is physical.”

    The year off from pitching allowed the slender, 6-foot-2 Buehler to focus on conditioning and adding strength, among other things.

    “I’m 25 pounds heavier than I was when I had the surgery. And a year and change older and more mature from the surgery, I feel like,” he said. “I think the surgery simplifies things for you a lot in terms of not being so worried about every result or every pitch being good or bad. It’s just ‘Oh I feel good again.’”

  • April–August 28, 2016: Walker was on the DL after spending most of the season rehabbing from his TJ surgery.

  • June 4-15, 2017: Buehler was on the DL.

  • June 12-July 13, 2018: Walker was on the DL with right rib microfracture.

  • March 13, 2019: Buehler’s throwing session was overshadowed by the revelation that he came to Spring Training with an arm that “didn’t feel right,” making the likelihood that he'd be ready to start Opening Day “a little far-fetched.”

    “My arm didn’t feel like it was moving the way I wanted it to,” said Buehler. “It’s not a pain thing, really, more like something doesn’t move perfectly. And the way I kind of work, I want everything to work correctly.”

    Buehler and the club had been insisting he was being “slow-played” this spring because of last year’s spike in innings, but the story changed, first with manager Dave Roberts conceding the injury before Buehler threw two innings of batting practice, then Buehler confirming it. 

    “Hangover stuff from last year,” said Buehler, who added that he had discomfort from the start of his offseason throwing program. “Kind of comes and goes. I wasn’t feeling good often enough. Nothing scary, nothing alarming. Just wasn’t right."

  • March 18, 2019: Buehler has been ruled out as the Opening Day starter due to shoulder soreness.

  • Aug 23-Sept 1, 2020: Walker was on the IL with blister on right hand.

  • Sept 9-24, 2020: Walker was IL with blister on right hand.Sept 16, 2020: Roberts said Walker Buehler threw a six-inning simulated game at the club's alternate training siite with his index finger blister covered. He will have another later this week and will be activated to make one final big league start next week to prepare for the postseason.