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May 12, 2024 9:10 am

Walker Buehler, Dodgers chase series win vs. Padres

walker buehler

On Monday night, Walker Buehler made his return to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation after nearly two years on the shelf due to injuries.

On Sunday, the right-hander will try for his first big league win since May 24, 2022, when he takes the mound in San Diego for the rubber match of a three-game series against the Padres.

Buehler, who was considered the ace of the Los Angeles staff at the time of his injury, gained a lot of perspective about his career during his lengthy absence. Instead of being disappointed in lasting just four innings in his return and allowing three runs off six hits, Buehler (0-0, 6.75 ERA) took a big-picture look at the night.

“Walking in from the bullpen was probably one of the cooler moments of my career,” he said. “It’s meant a lot to me and my family to play here and be part of the success of this organization. And so to come back here and kind of have that feeling is pretty cool.”

Buehler and the team were encouraged by his velocity. Manager Dave Roberts publicly tried to downplay hopes that the right-hander would throw the same kind of gas he did prior to the injury. But Buehler consistently sat at 96 miles per hour in his return and topped out close to 98, recording four strikeouts.

“Getting a staple part of the rotation with his track record, the compete, having him as an active player in the dugout, that’s impactful,” Roberts said.

Buehler has dominated San Diego in 10 previous starts, going 6-0 with a 1.49 ERA and striking out 76 hitters in 66 2/3 innings. He has quite an act to follow after James Paxton fired six shutout innings Saturday night in a 5-0 win, allowing just four hits and striking out four without a walk.

The Padres will counter with right-hander Yu Darvish (2-1, 2.94), who has authored a nice comeback since an April stint on the injured list. Darvish has won both starts since returning, logging five shutout innings on April 30 against the Cincinnati Reds and repeating the feat Monday night in a 6-3 win at the Chicago Cubs.

Darvish will make his third start of the year and 15th of his career against the Dodgers. He’s 4-5 with a 2.45 ERA over 84 1/3 innings, striking out 97 and walking just 23 while allowing a measly .172 average. He didn’t figure in the decision in this season’s two starts against his former team.

San Diego has played well in the past 10 games, going 7-3, but manager Mike Shildt has concerns about his relievers, aside from closer Robert Suarez. The bullpen inherited a 1-0 game from starter Matt Waldron in the sixth inning Saturday night and turned it into a 5-0 defeat by issuing a pair of two-out walks ahead of Teoscar Hernandez’s grand slam.

“The biggest troubling thing is the walks,” Shildt said. “You start the sixth with a walk, then a couple of walks (out of the bullpen). Homers are going to happen but if you put yourself in harm’s way with the walks, you put yourself in a lot of trouble.”

–Field Level Media

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