Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Walker Buehler made his third start of the season on Tuesday night with a chance to help the Los Angeles Dodgers take the series from the Atlanta Braves and extend their winning streak to eight games, but the night ended with a loss after a poor performance all around.
The offense only scored one run off Braves starter Max Fried, who pitched five perfect innings before a single in the sixth by Hanser Alberto.
For Buehler, his start was far from awful, but it was short of the expectations the ace has for himself and what many have come to expect. The right-hander threw five innings and allowed three runs, but he only struck out two and gave up eight hits.
“Just not a very good outing against a pretty good team,” Buehler said. “Obviously they had some success last year, so I just need to be a little bit sharper and make some better pitches in count.”
Buehler made multiple adjustments throughout the night to try to get better results, but they were still not what he wanted. One of the changes was a mechanical adjustment to stop raising his hands above his head during his windup.
The other was pitch selection and sequencing. Generally, Buehler’s fastball usage is roughly around 40-45% each season, with his cutter in the 15-18% range. But against the Braves on Tuesday, Buehler threw his cutter and fastball both at a 32% rate.
“The only way I feel like I’m getting guys out or swings and misses is on the cutter right now,” he said after registering 11 swings and misses in the game, with seven coming on the cutter. “We’re going to lean on the stuff that I feel I have the best chance with.”
Buehler now owns a 4.02 ERA in 15.2 innings with just 11 strikeouts. Last season he posted a 2.47 ERA with 212 strikeouts over 207.2 innings. In all three of his starts, Buehler has allowed at least two earned runs, pitched fewer than six innings and seen a drop in strikeouts.
“You can tell yourself it was Colorado and things weren’t sharp, but to have two here at home and not be super sharp is not something I enjoy,” Buehler said. “It’s not a feeling that like, but it’s not something we’re just going to let stay that way either.
“We’re trying things, I’m trying to figure it out and get back on track.”
Buehler not blaming short Spring Training
Due to the MLB lockout, players were rushed into Spring Training and only had three weeks to prepare for the regular season. For hitters, it was less of a problem, but it has caused many pitchers throughout the league to be behind where they would normally be come Opening Day.
But for Buehler, he doesn’t want to use that as an excuse. Heading into the regular season, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Buehler was the most built up of their starters and didn’t restrict him too much in any outing.
“I was pretty built up and throwing a lot of pitches; maybe not in Spring Training games, but I had thrown a lot of pitches,” Buehler said. “I definitely think a short Spring Training is not our plan A, but I don’t think that’s the reason. I’ve felt good and feel healthy, I’m just not getting the results that I want.”
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