Walker Buehler goes 4 innings for Dodgers during 1st major league start in nearly 2 years

LOS ANGELES — Walker Buehler went four innings and struck out four Monday night for the Los Angeles Dodgers against Miami, his first major league start in nearly two years.

The right-hander allowed three runs and six hits. He threw 77 pitches, including 49 strikes. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the game that Buehler’s pitch count would be anywhere from 80 to 85.

Buehler did not factor in the decision, but did depart with the Dodgers holding a 6-3 lead on the strength of four home runs, including Shohei Ohtani’s fourth in three games.

It was Buehler’s first start since since June 10, 2022, at San Francisco The 29-year-old two-time All-Star had his second Tommy John surgery on Aug. 23 that year. The first reconstructive surgery on his right elbow was in 2015 shortly after he was drafted in the first round by the Dodgers.

Buehler was 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA in six minor league starts this season, mostly with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He had 21 strikeouts and nine walks in 21 2/3 innings.

“For Walker to still stay focused on getting ready and seeing the light on the end of the tunnel, I’m proud that he could navigate that. It’s hard, especially the second time around,” Roberts said of Buehler’s comeback. “The compete is still in there. I know it has been caged up for quite a while.”

Buehler allowed four hits his first time through the order, including RBI singles by Bryan De La Cruz and Jesús Sánchez in the first and Nick Gordon’s solo homer in the second, but only one his second time around.

Buehler threw 13 pitches of 96 mph or more, including a 97.6 mph fastball that leadoff hitter Jazz Chisholm Jr. fouled off in the first inning.

Roberts tried to ramp down expectations about Buehler’s velocity before the game, instead turning the focus to his fastball command.

“I do expect command at some point. That will allow him to do different things,” Roberts said. “If he doesn’t command it, then you are sort of trying to mix and match and trick guys. I still think he’s going to be a very good pitcher. He has weapons to get right and left-handers out and he has to use them.”

Buehler appeared anxious during his warmup pitches before facing Chisholm.

The nerves didn’t subside when the Marlins’ center fielder fouled off four straight pitches and got aboard with an infield single inside the third-base line on the ninth pitch of the at-bat with the infield shifted to the right.

Chisholm stole second and scored on De La Cruz’s base hit to right-center. Buehler retired the next two batters, but De La Cruz scored on Jesús Sánchez’s single to right. Buehler got out of the inning when Tim Anderson was called out on batter interference when Sánchez tried to steal second.

After the Dodgers scored three in the bottom of the first, Gordon tied it with a solo shot just over the right-field wall on a full-count cutter from Buehler that was slightly elevated.

Buehler settled down after that and allowed only two more hits. He put two more Marlins aboard after a throwing error and a hit batter, but prevented any damage.

Buehler threw 25 pitches, with 17 being strikes, in the first. He was at 48 pitches after two innings.

Roberts and the Dodgers are hoping Buehler can return to a semblance of his past form. They’re not focused on his potential role in the playoffs right now.

“It’s about him being good in the regular season. Once we get to October, we’ll figure that out,” Roberts said.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

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