For the second consecutive day, the Dodgers have made multiple roster cuts. As the season draws closer, more changes will be made and more players will leave big league camp. Among these moves, was Walker Buehler optioned to the Minors. After today’s game the club made the following cuts:
Dodgers made the following moves after the game:
Optioned — RHP Walker Buehler, LHP Edward Paredes, IF Rob Segedin
Reassigned to Minors — LHP Manny Bañuelos, IF Max Muncy, C Will Smith
Released — RHP Mark Lowe
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) March 12, 2018
With these moves in mind, let’s break-down their significance. First and foremost is Mark Lowe being released by the club. There was little chance for him to make the roster, as there were more desirable options to fill out the bullpen. Still, we wish him the best in his endeavors. Next, we have the players moving to Minor League camp. Because these players are not on the 40-man roster they can easily switch over to the Minor League camp to get enough reps. Within this group is Dodger Nation’s #9 prospect Will Smith. Like Keibert Ruiz he made a strong impression, but he still has another few years to go before he can contribute at the Major League Level.
Lastly, we have what is likely to be the slightly controversial move of optioning Walker Buehler. There are many Dodger fans who feel Buehler should be on the big league roster. Whether he is starting or pitching in relief, many believe Buehler is Major League ready. If his one, and only, performance in Spring Training was any indication, they are probably right. However, there are many things to consider when discussing Walker Buehler’s 2018 role.
The Starting Rotation Is Full
Yes, you read that correctly. As it stands right now the Dodgers have a full starting rotation, and then some. Because of this, there is no current role for Buehler in the rotation. As we have said before he could break into the rotation at some point this year. But that would require either injuries, underperformance, or some combination of the two. With a full, and seemingly healthy, rotation Buehler has no real shot there to open the season.
He Doesn’t Have a Role in the Bullpen
The bullpen is quite the hot topic of discussion this spring. Already five relievers have spots in the bullpen, leaving three more spots. Though Buehler could easily be a devastating multi-inning relief weapon, there are other pitchers who don’t have options or are relievers by trade vying for those spots. There’s also the consideration that the Dodgers may drop from using 13 pitchers to 12 pitchers after a month or so into the season. So, with that in mind, know that Buehler was not likely to make the club in the bullpen.
He Needs the Innings
Dave Roberts recently said that Walker Buehler’s workload is increasing in 2018:
#Dodgers Dave Roberts said best-case scenario Walker Buehler pitches 140-150 innings this year. Some of that could be in minors, some could be in postseason.
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) March 5, 2018
This is probably the biggest reason he isn’t breaking camp with the Dodgers. Walker Buehler’s future is as a starter. In order for him to reach his ceiling, he needs to increase his innings and durability. And in order to accomplish that goal, he needs to start games at AAA. He won’t get innings in the Majors right now – especially as a reliever. So, the front office made the right call and have optioned him so he can continue to develop and gain those precious innings.
I for one believe he will be back in the Majors at some point this year. And when he does return, I believe it will be for good.
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