Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers have a busy offseason ahead of them with their sights set on signing Shohei Ohtani, but starting pitching is the biggest need for the organization as they look to add multiple starters via free agency and trade.
Walker Buehler’s return from Tommy John Surgery he underwent in 2022 provides a boost to a thin rotation, but he still needs to prove his effectiveness.
Buehler had the elbow reconstruction surgery for a second time in his career and worked his way up to a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City this year before he was shut down to prepare for 2024. He didn’t suffer any reported setbacks and saw his velocity ticking up, reaching 96.1 mph in the rehab start, but the Dodgers decided to take a cautious route.
That may continue into the 2024 season as Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes shared that Buehler could end up on an innings limit, per Jack Harris of the L.A. Times:
While Gomes said the Dodgers remain confident in Buehler’s ability to produce next season, the general manager said the team is “still talking about” whether the right-hander will be subject to an innings limit in his return to the mound.
“There’s a lot of different ways to go about making sure he’s in the best position possible for the stretch run,” Gomes said. “We’ll keep having conversations with him as we get closer to spring.”
Although Buehler did undergo Tommy John surgery, he previously explained his optimism because of the specifics of the procedure. “I think one weird thing about my surgery was it wasn’t necessarily another tear,” Buehler began.
“I had a kind of piece of bone from an old kind of injury that broke off and went into my ligament, so they had to cut that out. But nothing tore again, it wasn’t like I threw and it ripped out. So essentially, it wasn’t a full Tommy John.
“It was a reconstruction was all medically what they would say, but I don’t think it technically was as detrimental to like the long-term health of my elbow.”
The last time Buehler was on the mound in 2022, he 6-3 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 12 starts prior to missing the remainder of the season. He now enters his final year of arbitration before he can become a free agent after 2024.
Walker Buehler encouraged by Nathan Eovaldi’s success
Buehler is looking to join a select group of pitchers who have made it back to the Majors after undergoing two Tommy John surgeries. Chief among them is Nathan Eovaldi, who just won his second World Series championship with the Texas Rangers.
Buehler said he is encouraged by Eovaldi’s success since returning from the two Tommy John procedures, which he underwent in May 2007 and August 2016.
Although Eovaldi missed the entire 2017 season, he returned to help the Red Sox win a Wolrd Series in 2018 as an integral member of their pitching staff.
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