Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Since being selected with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, Walker Buehler has established himself as a key part of the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation both for the present and future.
He had a cup of coffee with the team in 2017 before entering the rotation on a permanent basis the following year, going 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over 24 games (23 starts). Enjoying that kind of success at the age of 23 put Buehler on the map.
He became a household name and has gone on to develop relationships with many of the league’s top players. That has been both good and bad for the right-hander.
During a recent appearance on “Off Air with Joe and Orel,” Buehler revealed that he doesn’t like facing batters he has gotten to know over the years over the fear of potentially losing an edge because of not wanting to possibly hit them:
“Early on in your career, it’s only your teammates from college that you get this weird relationship where you know them and are facing them. But, like the All-Star Game (in 2019), I went on a trip with Nike and you’re around these guys. It’s weird to get to know hitters. I would prefer not to know them at all.
“It can put that little tiny bit of fear of losing one and hitting the guy in the head. If you don’t know the guy, you don’t feel good about hitting him in the head or a bad spot, but especially guys that you know I think it’s natural that you don’t (want to hit him). Learning how to overcome that, I think is a big thing for me. Especially having gotten to know so many of those guys.”
As Buehler relayed, the last thing he wants to do is hit one of his good friends in the batter’s box. Luckily for him, that hasn’t been much of an issue over the past three seasons, hitting just 13 batters in 329 innings pitched.
Now that Buehler is poised to make his 2020 debut, it will mark the start of an opportunity to build off his most impressive campaign yet. Making a career-high 30 starts last year, he posted a 14-4 record, 3.26 ERA, 3.01 FIP and 1.04 WHIP with 215 strikeouts across 182.1 frames.
Buehler not motivated seeing Astros
For several members of the Dodgers, a return to Minute Maid Park this week may evoke frustrating memories from the 2017 World Series. While Buehler acknowledged organizationally there may be lingering feelings, he doesn’t feel as much in large part because of not being active at that time.
“I think the guys that were there and on that team obviously feel even stronger than some of us who weren’t there,” Buehler said. “But there’s some sense of pride in going there and trying to play good baseball to come out of there with a couple wins.
“I think every game is important, especially in this format, I guess it’s what, two and a half times more important for each game. So I think every game is huge and those are no different.”
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