Dodgers: Has Walker Buehler Suddenly Become Underrated?

When Walker Buehler first came up with the Dodgers, he dazzled with a lethal arsenal. The hard-throwing right-hander seemed to be able to strikeout hitters at will. Although he’s only been a full-time starter since 2018, Buehler has already logged two seasons with at least 200 strikeouts. After finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 2021, the new ace of the Dodgers staff entered 2022 with lofty expectations.

So far, Buehtane has not met those expectations. His strikeout rate this season (19.1%) is the lowest of his Dodgers career and opposing batters have been feasting on his fastball. Quite simply, he just hasn’t been the dominant force that fans were anticipating. 

Have those expectations led to fans and the rest of the baseball world underrated the 2022 version of Walker Buehler?

Through Saturday, Buehler’s 2.91 ERA ranks 21st in all of baseball. His sub-3.00 ERA hasn’t just been luck either. His 3.19 FIP ranks 22nd. 

Despite admittedly not having his fastball dialed in, Buehler has still been productive as a starter. He has yet to pitch fewer than five innings in any start and is one of just three pitchers to throw a complete game shutout this season. 

Opposing batters are hitting .367 off of his heater and he’s still top 25 in ERA.

How many pitchers in this league can produce a sub-3.00 ERA without their primary pitch working? The list is probably pretty short. 

Even without his fastball fully operational, he’s been able to keep the ball in the yard. Buehler ranks 10th in home runs allowed and owns the fifth-lowest barrel percentage (4.3%) according to FanGraphs

Despite an uneven start to the season, Buehler still has all of the talent and ability to make a push for his first Cy Young award this season.

This isn’t the Walker Buehler we’re used to seeing, but the best is yet to come in 2022 for Walker Buehler.

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Eric Eulau

Born and raised in Ventura, not "Ven-CH-ura", California. Favorite Dodger Stadium food is the old school chocolate malt with the wooden spoon. Host of the Dodgers Nation 3 Up, 3 Down Podcast.


  1. Let’s face it, this year WB has stunk the place up when considering the expectations placed on him for 2022. Last nights start against Pittsburgh (PITTSBURGH!!!) just shows how far down he’s fallen. I’m not sure what’s going on with him. He’s not injured so far as we know. So, he hasn’t got that to lean on for why he’s not living up to expectations. So, the real question is if he’s just good for a couple of good seasons and then tanks the rest of his career? It won’t be the first time that’s happen to a young pitcher. Fortunately, Gonsolin and Andersen have been amazing surprises this year so far. If the Dodgers can get Kershaw back and a couple of others off the injured list then they can move WB a little further down the order to maybe take the pressure off a little because it’s become obvious that WB isn’t going to be the pitcher we thought he’d be this year. Maybe next year? Who knows?

  2. I don’t believe Walker has been the same since last year when MLB started watching for a foreign substance on pitcher’s hands. That is not to say that he is not good pitcher. Btw, I am far more concerned about the Dodgers closer. There has to be some reason that the teams that had Kimbrel let him go.

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