Dodgers Rumors: Walker Buehler Decision Not Result Of Setback During Rehab Assignment

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Immediately after undergoing a right flexor tendon repair and second Tommy John surgery, Walker Buehler openly set a goal of returning to the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation.

President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts did not formally rule out the possibility, but they cautioned Buehler’s target date of September 1 was much more aggressive than the team and medical staff envisioned.

More recently, however, Roberts said he would not bet against Buehler coming off the 60-day injured list this year, even if it was not by the start of September. But Buehler pitching this season was officially ruled out when the Dodgers announced he would not return in 2023.

According to Jack Harris of the L.A. Times, the decision Buehler and the Dodgers made was not in response to any sort of setback:

According to a person with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly, Buehler didn’t suffer any setback in his recovery and is still in a good place physically. However, he hadn’t progressed enough to make a comeback this season. The risk of rushing back and re-injuring himself is still too great in both Buehler’s and the team’s estimation.

After multiple instances of facing batters in simulated games, Buehler advanced to joining Triple-A Oklahoma City at the beginning of the week for the start of a rehab assignment.

Roberts had indicated he would likely need to make at least three starts before possibly joining the Dodgers. And even if Buehler was to return, the expectation was he’d be somewhat limited in a starter’s capacity.

That’s all a moot point now as the focus shifts to 2024, which takes pressure off Buehler and provides him with a handful more months to be in a stronger position before Spring Training begins.

Walker Buehler used new windup

In his lone start for OKC, Buehler had a new windup that eliminated raising his arms above his head. Instead, Buehler took his glove and the ball to about his waistline before beginning to stride toward home plate and deliver the pitch.

Buehler had hinted at possibly changing his windup as part of evaluating his overall mechanics because of needing the second Tommy John surgery.

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