Sunday, June 12, 2022
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2022
It is bad news. It could be worse, but losing Walker Buehler until September at least is a serious blow to the Los Angeles Dodgers who want to win another world championship. Buehler’s injury will force the Dodgers’ brain trust for at least one starter.
Before spring training began, most baseball-knowledgeable people agreed the Dodger starting rotation will be the weak link and might prevent the Dodgers from winning another world championship. For the first month of the regular season, the Dodger starting rotation was the best in the Major Leagues. However, its superb performance began to falter.
After an unexpected beginning to the 2022 season, Andrew Heaney has been out with left shoulder discomfort. He is on a rehab assignment. Heaney can return any time, after throwing five innings at Oklahoma City. His recent success has been based on using his improved slider. Although most batters find the slider impossible to hit, the slider puts undue stress on the pitcher’s elbow. Because of this, Heaney, 31, might return to the IL for left arm problems.
At 34, Clayton Kershaw is fragile. When healthy, he is dominating, still one of the best starters in the Major Leagues. He has a long history of back injuries, and on Saturday he made a return from a five-week absence because of an inflamed SI joint, a joint that connects the hip to the spine. Since Kershaw has not had a heavy workload in either the abbreviated 2020 or the 2021 season where Kershaw had forearm problems for the first time during his fifteen-year Major-League career, the Dodgers should treat Kershaw with kid gloves.
The emergence of Tony Gonsolin as a dominating starter this season is exciting to watch. His splinter has baffled most opposing hitters, and he has learned to trust his stuff. Usually, he does not nibble at the strike zone enabling him to last in the game longer. However, during the 2021 season, Gonsolin experienced right shoulder inflammation limiting him to 55.2 innings. He has already pitched more than in 2021. A weary pitcher becomes ineffective and then, suffers an arm injury. The Dodgers ought to manage Gonsolin’s workload.
Tyler Anderson has been a pleasant surprise despite his Thursday bad start against the Chicago White Sox. He has given the Dodgers gusty starts whenever he took the mound. Again, Anderson, 32, is coming off a season where he pitched 122.1 innings, so his workload needs to be managed.
Coming off an arduous 2021 season where he pitched a career-high of 185.2 innings during the 2021 regular season, Julio Urías has not performed the way either the Dodgers or he expected. Urías has had a decline in velocity and his breaking balls have not had a sharp break. Since the Dodger offense has not supported him adequately, Urías has a losing record. During his Major-League career, he has had a major left shoulder injury. Urías needs rest, but without Buehler in the starting rotation, the Dodgers will rely on Urías to be their stopper.
At no time this season, Buehler has looked like himself even though he pitched a complete-game shutout against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 24th. Coming off a season when he hurled 207.1 innings, Buehler has not his overpowering four-seam fastball. He relied on his two-seam fastball and off-speed pitches during his poor starts. Frustrated by his poor results, Buehler has had several long bullpen sessions to try to correct his mechanical problems.
On Friday during the third inning against the San Francisco Giants, Buehler suffered a flexor strain. He cannot pick up a baseball from six to eight weeks. Then, if he does not suffer any setbacks, he must go through spring training exercises and build up pitch amount. He might be able to return in the middle of September. If the Dodgers are not going to the postseason, Buehler has thrown his last competitive pitch during the 2022 season.
While Dustin May will return from Tommy John surgery after the All-Star break, the Dodgers must manage May’s workload carefully. The Dodgers have Ryan Pepoit and Michael Grove, but they are not ready for the Major Leagues yet. Mitch White can be a starter, but he is not ready to be an ace while the Dodgers battle the San Diego Padres during a high-competitive divisional race.
Losing Buehler for at least three months is a blow to the Dodgers. However, a good team survives injuries,
Sunday, June 12, 2022