Dodgers News: Walker Buehler Wants To Improve Velocity Of Breaking Balls During Rehab Assignment

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Walker Buehler missed his aggressive September 1 target for a return to the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation, but he nonetheless continues to progress well in his recovery from last year’s right flexor tendon repair and second Tommy John surgery.

Buehler took a notable step forward at the beginning of the week by joining Triple-A Oklahoma City for the start of a rehab assignment. He pitched two innings, touching 96.1 mph on his fastball and more importantly, not experiencing any sort of setback.

The right-hander is scheduled to make a second rehab start with OKC on Friday.

During the latest “Just Baseball Fans” podcast episode, Buehler explained one goal during his rehab assignment is improving the velocity on his breaking pitches:

“I think the top-end velocity was fine. I hit 96 (mph), which was fine. For me, I would like to throw a little harder. But the breaking balls are all kind of slow right now, so I think that’s probably the next thing. You look at a breaking ball in a high school game, it’s going to be in the 70s. You watch most of them in the big leagues, they’re in the 80s to mid-80s.

“They were a little slow for me, even when my fastball is in that range. So that’s kind of the next thing I need to get going. But as long as they’re sharp, you can get away with some of that stuff. But those are kind of the nitpicking stuff for me.”

Prior to Buehler beginning his rehab assignment, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said it would likely comprise of at least three starts. That rough timeline would leave the 29-year-old on track to be activated off the 60-day injured list around September 18.

Should that become the case, Buehler conceivably could make three starts for the Dodgers before the postseason. Roberts previously suggested he would only be stretched out to roughly four innings, but noted that wouldn’t be any hindrance for the team.

Walker Buehler pitching with new delivery

Among the factors that stood out from Buehler’s first start for OKC was a new delivery. Buehler’s windup no longer includes raising both arms above his head, and he instead keeps the ball near his waistline before throwing a pitch.

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