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MLB

Dodgers have their eyes set on the World Series, but will have to do it without Walker Buehler

With the best record in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers have every reason to think this is their year, but they will have to do it without Walker Buehler

Update:
With the best record in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers have every reason to think this is their year, but they will have to do it without Walker Buehler
Lachlan CunninghamAFP

The Dodgers are perennial hopefuls, having won the World Series in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, they made a deep run into the NLCS the following year. Picked by nearly everyone to make a third straight appearance in the post season at the start of 2022, they managed to somehow trade away some of their most prodigious pitchers and still wind up with one of the strongest bullpens in baseball.

One of their brightest stars has been 28-year-old Walker Buehler, who was very nearly the hero of the NLCS when he pitched twice on short rest, including Game 6 when Max Scherzer was unable to start. Although the Dodgers lost that series to the Braves, Buehler was very much the toast of the town.

2022 got off with Buehler starting on Opening Day, picking up his first win of the year, and it certainly looked like this would be the year that the Kentucky native would cement his reputation as one of the finest starting pitchers in baseball.

But then things started to get shaky when, back in June, Buehler had to have a bone spur removed after he sustained a Grade 2 flexor strain in his right elbow. Expected to return to action in September, just in time to be back in form for the post season run that the Dodgers will most certainly be on.

Now it is clear that will not be the case, and Walker Buehler has seen the last of Dodger baseball for this season. Announcing that the ace will need to undergo elbow surgery, manager Dave Roberts was intentionally vague with his responses, only going as far as saying that it is not expected to be Tommy John, although quickly backtracking by saying that he could be wrong.

“I don’t want to get ahead of what it possibly might or might not be,” says Roberts. “I think it’s fair because if we had clarity on what it was before going in, then you have a timeline. But right now we don’t. I think all of us would love to have complete clarity right now.”

Over the past few weeks, Buehler had played catch, testing out his feeling and eventually getting up to 120 feet in his progression. But after feeling a consistent discomfort, an MRI was ordered and it became clear at that point that his season was over.

Without Buehler in the starting rotation, LA will have to lean on Julio Urías a bit more, although the Mexican southpaw feels like he is up to the challenge.

“We know what’s happening with Walker and he’s going to be someone that is missed by everyone,” says Urías. “But we have the talent in the rotation. My focus is on giving it my 100 percent and whatever happens, happens.”

Tony Gonsolin will pick up slack as well, plus Dustin May is expected back at the end of August from Tommy John surgery, giving the Dodgers a fighting chance going into the back end of the season.

Walker Buehler may not have the best ERA in the league but he does have an uncanny knack for switching on in a big way come October. If there is one thing that the Dodgers would love to have him in the rotation for, it is that.

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