Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Walker Buehler began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City in encouraging fashion as he works to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation during the final month of the regular season.
Buehler threw 24 pitches over two perfect innings and got his fastball velocity up to 96.1 mph. Buehler threw nine four-seam fastballs in his start and averaged 94.4 mph. He additionally mixed in sinkers, curveballs, cutters and one slider, and finished with two strikeouts.
The game was Buehler’s first since June 10, 2022.
Heading into the start, the Dodgers were hopeful to see Buehler simply take another step forward without too much concern over results.
“Right now it’s just making sure you get the pitch count up, making sure the stuff is there, sprinkle in some command,” manager Dave Roberts said. “And most importantly, after he comes out of it, that he feels well.”
It’s usually reserved for homers, but can we please get a YEESH for Walker Buehler’s first strikeout? pic.twitter.com/TpvP1LmOzp
— Oklahoma City Dodgers (@okc_dodgers) September 3, 2023
Roberts had previously indicated Buehler would need to make at least three rehab starts with Oklahoma City prior to possibly coming off the 60-day injured list.
Buehler had a second Tommy John surgery in addition to a right flexor tendon repair on August 23, 2022. That ended his season and came six weeks after Buehler had bone spurs removed from his throwing elbow.
Despite facing lengthy recovery process, Buehler immediately set a goal of returning this season. His target date was September 1, which Roberts cautioned wasn’t necessarily likely. However, Roberts added he was not going to bet against Buehler and in recent weeks began to acknowledge there was a path for the 29-year-old contributing this year.
What role will Walker Buehler have with Dodgers?
Should Buehler successfully get through his rehab assignment and join the Dodgers, it’s expected to be in a starter role even if he’s not fully built up.
“A starter, there’s no clear definition. A starter is the person who starts a game,” Roberts said. “It’s not going to be five (innings) and 75 (pitches), I know that.”
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