Walker Buehler Could ‘Sneak Into’ Late In Dodgers Spring Training Games

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

It is clear the Los Angeles Dodgers want to err on the side of caution when it comes to the return of Walker Buehler from a second career Tommy John surgery.

The Dodgers front office heavily focused on rebuilding their rotation during the offseason as a direct response to the team’s lack of available starters in 2023 due to injuries and other factors.

The Dodgers’ offseason acquisitions of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, James Paxton and the return of Clayton Kershaw have afforded them the luxury of not needing to rush Buehler back into the rotation.

While there’s no guarantee Buehler will pitch in a Spring Training game, there remains a possibility that he could make an appearance at some point before Opening Day of the 2024 season, according to Jack Harris of the L.A. Times:

Buehler said he might still try to “sneak into some” Cactus League games near the end of spring

However, he said what’s more important right now is that “we’ve left ourselves a lot of leeway to build up however I need to.”

cont… https://t.co/AUdrJlKmqK

— Jack Harris (@ByJackHarris) February 19, 2024

If Buehler does not make it into any Cactus League games, his last opportunity for Spring Training action would be the exhibition Freeway Series right before the beginning of the season. But even if Buehler does make some type of appearance in a game this Spring Training, he was already ruled out for the Opening Day roster.

Despite not having Buehler available to start the season, the Dodgers are in a good spot in their rotation.

Walker Buehler could bolster Dodgers rotation

Starting pitching is projected to be a strength after a rough 2023 season when Dodgers’ starting pitchers put up a 4.57 ERA, which was 20th in MLB.

One area of weakness was Dodgers starters not consistently providing much length length. In fact, Kershaw led the team with 131.2 innings pitched, which was only 85th in MLB. It was the bullpen that really powered the Dodgers’ pitching success, with the third-best ERA in baseball at 3.42.

With a possible rotation of Yamamoto, Glasnow, Kershaw, Buehler, Paxton, Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan, Gavin Stone, Michael Grove, Landon Knack and River Ryan, the Dodgers should expect a lot more success from their group that now has both talent and depth.

A less-taxed bullpen could possibly find some more success as well. All in all, the Dodgers should find themselves climbing back up the team ERA leaderboard in 2024.

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