Walker Buehler Update: Second Simulated Game Not As Sharp

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

Walker Buehler figures to miss his target date of September 1 for a return from a right flexor tendon repair and second career Tommy John surgery, but pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season remains likely.

Buehler took a notable step forward in his recovery last week by facing batters at Chase Field for the first time since his surgery. Buehler’s velocity and command of pitches were both encouraging.

However, the right-hander experienced some regression in a second simulated game on Sunday.

“Seeing his simulated game in Arizona, I was surprised at the execution as well,” manager Dave Roberts said from the ninth annual Dodgers All-Access event. “I will put it on record he was very good last week with his execution.

“I saw his simulated today, below average. I saw it. But he got through it healthy, so that’s the main thing at this point in time.”

Some of Roberts’ assessment was tongue in cheek, as he had also been discussing Buehler’s unwavering confidence. Roberts presumed his comments would reach Buehler and further inspire the fiery 29-year-old.

When further discussing Buehler’s outlook for 2023, Roberts made it clear he was impressed and fully convinced a return this season will come to fruition.

“I’m shocked. But in that same breath, guys like Walker are just different,” Roberts said. “They’re wired and mentally different, physically they’re just freaks of nature. So you can’t discount that.

“I was surprised that he put it in the universe he was going to be back (in 2023), but I’m going to bet on him.”

When previously discussing Buehler’s recovery, Roberts said the Dodgers would be comfortable with him stretching out while pitching in Major League games. However, some semblance of a rehab assignment is likely needed prior to that point.

What’s next for Walker Buehler?

After his first simulated game, which was only one inning, Buehler estimated he would need to face batters upwards of a handful more times.

The Dodgers have not publicly set a number but it stands to reason Buehler will face hitters in a controlled environment at least two more times prior to beginning a rehab assignment.

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