Dodgers News: Walker Buehler Finding Feel With Changeup

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Walker Buehler wasn’t overpowering for the Los Angeles Dodgers in a key game against the San Francisco Giants, but he turned in a strong performance to help them get a 3-1 win to complete a series sweep of the National League West leaders.

Buehler nearly was through seven shutout innings, but an error by Gavin Lux led to an unearned run and Joe Kelly being called in for the final out of the frame. Buehler finished the night with seven strikeouts and just the one run allowed on three hits and one walk in 6.2 innings.

“I feel good about it,” he said after the win. “Trying to mix in some two-seamers, changeups and things like that to try to keep them off balance. Obviously we’re going to play them a lot and they’ve seen my a fair amount, so I’m trying to do some different things.”

Part of giving the Giants a new look in his third start against them this season entailed Buehler throwing a changeup six times. “It’s something we’ve been working on for years. Just haven’t liked it enough or felt that it was time to really go for it, I guess,” he said of the pitch.

“I like it. I found a new grip and made some real improvement for the first time since (Tommy John) surgery. That was a big pitch for me going up and the surgery can change how things feel, so I’ve struggled with it since then. But I’ve found a grip with the coaching staff and worked through it, so I feel good with where it’s at.”

Buehler has still only thrown the changeup 1.6% of the time this season, which is up from 0.5% in 2019 and not at all last year. However, it trails the career-high 3.8% usage of the pitch he had in 2018.

In addition to feeling more comfortable with the changeup this season, Buehler has a competition with Trevor Bauer to see who can log the most strikeouts with the offspeed offering. “I think we’re similar in a lot of ways and I think we’re different in a lot of ways,” Buehler said of himself and Bauer.

“I would say I’m kind of going to do what I do regardless, and so is he. He spins it a little bit more than I do, but definitely similar in the way we might use the slider. Our cutters are pretty drastically different, breaking balls are similar, and then he’s got the big heater.”

Buehler enjoyed peculiar standing ovation

Buehler received a standing ovation from the Dodger Stadium crowd as he was walking off the field for the final time, but like Clayton Kershaw two days prior, that was interrupted by umpires conducting a check for foreign substances and boos as a result.

“They’re maybe the coolest thing in our game, for me at least as a starting pitcher,” Buehler said of standing ovations. “That’s really cool, obviously. Talking to the two umpires while it’s happening is a little bit different, but we enjoy it nonetheless.”

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