Dodgers News: Walker Buehler Not Returning From Tommy John Surgery Until 2024

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The Los Angeles Dodgers announced Walker Buehler would not pitch for the team this season and instead shift his focus to getting fully healthy by Opening Day of 2024.

“My goal since last year has been to return to a Major League mound this season,” Buehler said in a statement. “After many conversations with my doctor, the Dodgers’ front office, training staff and my family, we concluded that waiting until next season is the right course of action.

“I am disappointed that I will not be able to help this team go after a title in the 2023 postseason, but I look forward to returning fully healthy in 2024 and bringing another World Series to L.A.”

Buehler had his right flexor tendon repaired and a second Tommy John surgery on August 23, 2022. Shortly after the operation, the ever-competitive 29-year-old set a target goal of returning to the Dodgers rotation by September 1, 2023.

Manager Dave Roberts suggested that was more of Buehler’s wish than a likely outcome, but never formally ruled out the possibility. That remained the case earlier this year as Buehler began his throwing progression and pitched off a mound before facing batters and starting a rehab assignment.

Buehler was scheduled to make a second start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday, but no longer will do so as his rehab assignment has been brought to an end in light of a shift in focus.

Although Buehler and the Dodgers have decided to look ahead to 2024, there was encouraging progress made seemingly with each step of the rehab process. He didn’t suffer any reported setbacks upon resuming throwing and Buehler’s fastball velocity got up to 96.1 mph in Sunday’s start with OKC.

When discussing the outing, his new windup motion and goals moving forward, Buehler said he hoped to see an increase in velocity on breaking balls.

What does Walker Buehler not returning mean for Dodgers?

While the Dodgers never anticipated Buehler being fully stretched out in time for the postseason, he was going to be among their options to start games in October.

Now, the team figures to rely more heavily on multiple rookies in the postseason, and potentially bullpen games as well.

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