After making a predetermined decision to limit the length of a start against the New York Mets, the Los Angeles Dodgers went into Saturday’s game without any sort of restrictions in place for Walker Buehler.
Though he’d been dominant at Dodger Stadium — with a historic complete game coming at the expense of the Colorado Rockies — Buehler labored in his penultimate start of the 2019 regular season.
A solo home run and soft contact on RBI singles had the Dodgers trailing 3-0 by the third inning. “I think he was just missing a little bit,” manager Dave Roberts said after the 4-2 loss to the Rockies.
“The fastball had good life but it was just missing a tick on both sides of the plate, top of the zone, and it just seemed like it was a grind as far as getting ahead of guys and putting guys away. The stuff was good, it was just a little bit off.”
Buehler’s start in some sense was an extension of what’s recently been the case for himself, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu. It’s led to a narrative unfamiliarity with Will Smith may be to blame, though none of the pitchers have pointed to that being a root of their struggles.
Russell Martin caught Buehler, which has been a rarity this season, but the right-hander looked inward when evaluating his start. “I just wasn’t super sharp,” Buehler said. “It’s something I’ve been through before and will go through again.
“Just not super sharp with anything. Despite their record there’s a lot of talent over there and they took advantage of some pitches.”
After allowing an RBI single to Charlie Blackmon in the third inning, Buehler retired 10 of the next 11 batters faced. He surrendered a leadoff home run on his first pitch in the seventh inning and was promptly removed.
Roberts explained Julio Urias was due to come in after the first batter, regardless of the outcome.
What’s next for Buehler, such as when he will start and whether it will be more of a tuneup or regular outing, is unclear. But Buehler is at least mindful of his goals before taking the mound in the postseason.
“You want to get through them clean and healthy and feeling good about where you’re at,” he said. “This time of year you’re just trying to finish out strong and move into the playoffs the right way. I’ll kind of tinker some things and go from there.
“Big thing for me is certain lanes with certain pitches and trying to make them play off of each other. When I’m not doing that it almost feels like I’m trying to get everyone out on one pitch instead of pitching. I think that’s a big thing. I’ll work on it.”