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May 6, 2024 7:23 am

Dodgers’ Walker Buehler set for season debut vs. Marlins

Walker Buehler

After a nearly 23-month wait, Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler is set to take the mound on Monday against the visiting Miami Marlins.

Other than wishing he had a slight uptick in velocity, something that figures to come with consistent outings, Buehler is more than ready to return after a lengthy rehab from Tommy John surgery as well as a forearm flexor tendon repair.

“It’s been a long time and a long process but I finally put together some things (in rehab outings) at Triple-A and I think we all felt pretty comfortable with Monday being the date,” Buehler said. “I’m looking (forward to) it.”

Once considered the heir to Clayton Kershaw’s throne as staff ace, Buehler still is expected to operate in rarefied air upon his return. For now, though, the main goal is to stabilize a Dodgers rotation that is missing Kershaw, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin because of injuries.

“For me, the expectations are tempered in that it’s his first start in so long,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I’m just happy to see him out there. We feel good about it. We’ve checked all the boxes, just go out there and compete.”

Buehler at least will be coming back to a team that has won 11 of its past 13 games and just finished off a three-game sweep over the Atlanta Braves. Max Muncy hit three home runs Saturday and Shohei Ohtani had his first two-homer performance with his new club during Sunday’s 5-1 victory over the Braves.

“I just feel like we’re overall playing really well so that’s really helping me to have quality at-bats,” Ohtani said through an interpreter after reaching 10 homers on the season. “I’m just feeling good overall.”

Buehler’s comeback will take place against a team that has been struggling, although the Marlins did earn a 12-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday after losing nine of their previous 12. One of those defeats was a 20-4 thrashing by the A’s on Saturday.

Miami will send right-hander Roddery Munoz (1-0, 2.45 ERA) to the mound as he looks to continue an impressive start to his career.

In his major league debut on April 20, Munoz gave up two runs over five innings in a no-decision against the Chicago Cubs. On Wednesday, against the Colorado Rockies, he earned his first win after surrendering one run on three hits over six innings of the 4-1 victory.

The only two pitchers in Marlins history with at least 13 strikeouts and a WHIP under 0.75 over their first two starts are Munoz and Jose Fernandez.

The Marlins also know the challenges of injuries to a starting staff. They currently are missing Sandy Alcantara, Braxton Garrett, Jesus Luzardo, Eury Perez and A.J. Puk.

In Munoz, they have promising option moving forward.

“It all works out,” manager Skip Schumaker said, according to MLB.com. “We were trying to figure it out in spring training, right, and then five guys go down and it was like, ‘Who are we going to have?’ … That’s what you want. You have depth. Your depth’s being tested, and then it gives guys opportunities.”

Miami is now 1-2 to start a stretch in which it is scheduled to play nine of 12 games on the road.

–Field Level Media

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