Dodgers Disclose Return Date for Walker Buehler After Nearly 2-Year Absence

Walker Buehler

Getty Los Angeles Dodgers Walker Buehler

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler is expected to make his 2024 season debut  — after a nearly two-year absence — on Monday, May 6 against the Miami Marlins.

The 29-year-old righty has been recovering from his second Tommy John surgery. He last pitched in the bigs on June 22, 2022, against the San Francisco Giants.

“The plan is Walker’s going to start on Monday,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told the media Wednesday night after L.A. beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 8-0. “We’re excited about that. Everything checked out. It’ll be good.”

Buehler, a two-time All-Star, spent the last month rehabbing with L.A.’s Triple-A team. He pitched to a 4.15 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 21.2 innings.

According to Matt Snyder of CBS Sports, Buehler “went through bouts of not being able to throw strikes and also got knocked around a little.”

In his most recent outing, Buehler allowed 1 run on 7 hits across 5.0 innings with 0 walks and 5 strikeouts, Snyder reported. His velocity returned to the mid-90s, according to The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya.

“I think he’s going to still be Walker,” Roberts said on Wednesday, May 2. “He’s going to be attacking. But I think that there’s attacking with his entire repertoire — I think that in years past, it was heavy fastball, heavy cutter … I think that Walker has more weapons (now). And I think that’s what my hope is, instead of just trying to bully guys. But again, he’s gonna do what he does.”

Buehler underwent his first Tommy John surgery in 2015, shortly after signing with the club. He’s set to become a free agent at season’s end.

In a corresponding move, Los Angeles optioned rookie Landon Knack to the minors.

When Fans Last Saw Walker Buehler

Buehler left that game against the Giants after just four innings with elbow discomfort. He was placed on the IL with a Grade 2 flexor strain, had surgery to repair bone spurs in his right elbow, and finished the year 6-3 with a 4.02 ERA.

It was a dropoff from his stellar 2021 when he was an All-Star and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. That season, the right-hander won 16 games, pitched to a 2.47 ERA, with 212 strikeouts in 207.2 innings. His 171 ERA+ led the majors.

How the Dodgers’ Rotation Has Performed So Far in 2024

Nine different pitchers have started a game so far for Los Angeles. The Dodgers utilized openers in three of those contests. Roberts has also turned to Gavin Stone and 35-year-old James Paxton with Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin still sidelined on the 60-day IL.

The Dodgers have a 3.48 ERA from its starters. That’s eighth-best in the bigs and third-best in the senior circuit.

Tyler Glasnow, acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, is 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA. He leads the majors in strikeouts with 53 (in 43 innings pitched). Yoshinobu Yamamoto is 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA and 42 punchouts in 34 IP.

Buehler will slot in behind the 30-year-old oft-injured ace and the three-time Eiji Sawamura Award — the Nippon Professional Baseball’s equivalent to the Cy Young — winner.

Los Angeles currently resides in first place in the National League West at 20-13.

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