When a rookie pitcher gets a September call-up, one of three things generally happens:
- They look bad;
- They look mediocre; or
- They look good!
Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals came up in September and put up a 13.50 ERA, but followed that up with a 3.12 ERA the next year. There are many other instances of where pitchers did not impress in their September auditions, but came back and were excellent.
Walker Buehler was a September call-up and if you look at his overall stats, you may not be impressed: 9.1 IP. 7.71 ERA, 8 walks, 2 HR to go with 12 strikeouts (well, that last one’s not bad). However, if you look closer, Walker had two bad games, in which he gave up 6 of his 8 runs. In his other 6 appearances he gave up 2 runs. I saw those games and his talent is undeniable. His wildness was an issue.
I chalk it up to nerves and being in an unusual situation. Walker Buehler is 23 years-old and will be 24 in July. He had Tommy John Surgery shortly after he was drafted and missed almost all of 2016… except for 5 innings. In 2017, he traversed 4 levels of baseball: A+, AA, AAA and The Show.
About this time last year, I told you Cody Bellinger was ready… and I did not lie. I am telling you that Walker “Texas Ranger” is ready. Maybe they will start him in OKC, but he is ready… just like Cody who started in OKC last year. He just needs to pitch and I am not sure if it is at OKC or LA.
If Buehler can step into the Dodgers rotation, he is Secret Weapon #2. I look for an excellent season from Ryu this year and if Madea and his agent don’t cop an attitude, the Dodgers are a much better team when he comes out of the bullpen. He is a game-changer out of the pen. I even wonder if Buehler could pitch out of the pen this year. The Cardinals did that to Adam Wainwright his rookie year before bringing him back the next year as a starter (175 innings).
John Sickels has this to say about Buehler:
1) Walker Buehler, RHP, Grade A-: Age 23, first round pick in 2015 from Vanderbilt, recovered from Tommy John surgery without glitches posting 3.35 ERA with 125/31 K/BB in 89 innings between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, had some command issues during major league trial (7.71, 12/8 K/BB in 9 innings) but I doubt that will be a long-term problem; has retained pre-injury plus curveball while boosting fastball velocity, up to 99-100 MPH; still need to see what happens when he gets past 100 innings but his stuff looks special and he knows how to use it; possible number two starter. ETA 2018.
As usual, Dodger Insider has some great photos from Spring Training yesterday. It’s a great place to check in daily. It makes me feel like I am there. Just a few observations:
- Pedro Baez looks slimmer than I have ever seen him.
- Justin Turner could stand to slim up.
- Clayton Kershaw does not look to be in “great shape.”
- Joc Pederson and Kike look cut.
- Hyun-Jin Ryu looks to be in the best shape of his life.
- Matt Kemp still has 10 pounds to go.
- Andrew Toles looks calm and determined… and in great shape.
- Cody Bellinger looks more “cut” but not bigger!
Just in watching the interviews and the players’ demeanor, it appears to me that there guys have a galvanized steely resolve to complete some unfinished business. It’s a long season, but these guys appear to be on a mission.
I always enjoy John Sickels and here are an interesting quote from him:
It’s from an article where he calls Caleb Ferguson a “sleeper.”