There’s no doubt that Walker Buehler has been the Dodgers postseason ace. Now, with Clayton Kershaw on the injured list and Trevor Bauer indefinitely sidelined, Buehler is unquestionably the regular season ace as well.
After a strong performance on Saturday at Coors Field (2 ER, 8 K, 7.0 IP), Buehler’s ERA stands at 2.37 for the year. Good for seventh best amongst MLB starters. He’s also sixth in WHIP (0.91). The 26-year-old is on track for the best season of his young career.
Buehler has evolved as a pitcher. He’s consistently going deeper into games by not attempting to strike every single hitter out. Buehler’s K/9 stands at a career “low” of 9.0. The new approach has yielded positive results. He has yet to have a start shorter than five innings in 2021.
Future Hall-of-Famer Clayton Kershaw casts a long shadow. All parties involved would prefer to have the great southpaw healthy, but his absence provides an opportunity for Buehler to helm the rotation. After Sunday, the Dodgers are one game back of the Giants. They will face their arch-rivals seven times in the next ten games.
Presumably, Buehler will get not one, but two, shots at the San Francisco Giants in the next week and a half. Buehler is slated to go toe-to-toe against the Giants Anthony DeSclafani on Thursday at Dodger Stadium. It is also likely that Buehler will get either the following Tuesday or Wednesday start in San Francisco.
He has a golden opportunity to help vault the Dodgers into the division lead for the first time in a long time. Since April 28th to be exact.
The next two weeks could shape the next two months for the Dodgers and their bid to defend their title.
Whenever the stakes are high, Buehler has risen to the occasion.