Secret Weapon #2

When a rookie pitcher gets a September call-up, one of three things generally happens:

  1. They look bad;
  2. They look mediocre;  or
  3. 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:

The Los Angeles Dodgers may have come up just short in another classic World Series, but they are built beautifully thanks to an extremely stout farm system.

It’s from an article where he calls Caleb Ferguson a “sleeper.”

Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don't do game recaps or such things -- lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don't think they are the "end-all-be-all.". This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We'd like to hear your voice.

This article has 28 Comments

  1. I agree with you on this one. I have said he should be in the starting rotation out of ST. He has four plus pitches. If you start him and rest him when need, he will be our number two pitcher in the play offs. This is how much I believe in him. You have to kook ahead and think what we need in the play offs. We need a strong right handed pitcher. Beuhler is the man.

  2. I agree with both of you and believe also he is the Real Deal… Only fear I have is 2017 IP. I don’t know how they work around that!??!
    Urias is problematic also…

    1. Wainwright went from 65 IP as a rookie to 175 IP in his second year.

      Walker pitched 88 innings in 2017. I don’t think 160 innings or so is bad.

      Urias will likely be a big factor. The fact that during surgery it was discovered that his shoulder capsule was not as bad as they feared, should increase his odds of recovery.

  3. I believe the kids need a chance to show what they have. All of the starting 5 have had injury issues and the 10 day DL is a thing they like to use. I prefer Buehler to be 1st man up but he has to earn it. At 23 he should be ready, and Urias is only 21. Both may be handled with kid gloves this season. Stripling and Stewart don’t overwhelm me but are decent.

    1. Stripling may yet be a starter, but I would not waste time with Stewart. Brock is a reliever. It’s what the stats say and what my eyes see. I see nothing that leads me to believe he will be a successful starter.

  4. ….. Clayton Kershaw does not look to be in “great shape.” …. Are you referring to the fan wearing #27? 😉
    Okay, I am willing to be one of the very few that believe Stewart will be a starter and an innings eater. His fastball has tremendous movement and because he hasn’t always been a pitcher, a little more time should allow him to nail two more pitches..
    Sutton used to be the obscure #3 pitcher overshadowed by Koufax and Drysdale early in his career and I will go as far as to say he will be the Sutton of the Kershaw/Hill/ era.

    1. I am hoping since Buehler is another year away from having TJ surgery, he will have better command this year, and that seemed to be his biggest issue last year, especially at the major league level.

      And that, along with getting his feet wet at the major league level, will help Buehler not only pitch better at the major league level this year.

      He will be able to make a bigger difference at the major league level this year, and hopefully, in the post season.

      And the only way Buehler is going to get better at the major league level, is by learning to pitch at the major league level.

      So I hope he is able to come up much sooner this year, and get the starts he needs, to learn to pitch, at this level.

        1. Bum

          Are you sure Sutton has a perm, because isn’t his hair still like that?

          Because his hair is like that still, except his hair is grey.

  5. Yesterday was spent from 9:00 am till 2:00 this morning with a visiting close very old friend of 50+ years listening to music that was a big part of our friendship. The day wasn’t long enough. but there’ll be more of those good medicine days to come as we promised each other when he was starting his motorcycle to leave in the freezing, dark chill of this early morning.
    The above I started just to tie into how important Utley is to be on Dodgers right now and and now I don’t know how to do that. So now the above is just me bragging that I had such a great yesterday.
    Utley is the grey-haired veteran of veterans who I don’t know but I think was always a Dodger at heart-like as a kid he fantasized himself in blue. I think he’s really the #1 secret weapon and that’s something that the stats can’t measure. Just his showing his willingness to accept any contributing roll surely is the example I want the team to follow. He’s still proving himself when there’s nothing he needs to prove. I get the feeling there is much ahead with Dodgers and Utley. Guess I always loved him but I didn’t know it till he got that blue uniform.

  6. How often do the front 5 make it out of ST on time and not either on the DL, or behind in becoming fully prepared to start the season?

    Buehler throws strikes, he needs to throw quality strikes…easier said than done…Urias was struggling with pitch counts and locating that high, outside fastball…

    Guys like Stripling, Stewart and probably a cast of others, will in my opinion, see time on the famed hill.

    Friedman noted that he expects the arms of the future to mature by seasons end…they will know who to pencil into the roster for 2019.

    1. In protest of this thread: There wasn’t one hair out of shape on Clayton Kershaws head. In fact he was so well groomed, it looked as if they were clipping his doo as he strolled on into the Ranch.

      1. I also agree that Beaz looks lighter…All of the animals used in his Sancocho this winter, must of been on the South Beach Diet.

  7. Hi Quas – seems like life is treating you well at last, hope it continues.

    I too have always loved Utley, and am glad they have brought him back. For me it’s just a shame it wasn’t years ago!

    Mark – as Bums said above, where’s the information that CK is out of shape, or that JT needs to shed some timber?

    Not read that anywhere…..

    1. Hey Watford, thanks and you’re part of the good! The bad always throws something into the pool sadly enough but that can’t go down as undeserved. As long as some good keeps coming the bad can dump it right on me – I can take it! At least so far!

  8. I agree with you about Buehler being secret weapon number 2. I think even if he has a great spring he should go back to OKC where he can pitch as a starter. They can control the number of innings they want him to pitch, they could also bring him up to the Dodgers when they need a fill in for one of the starters and evaluate if he is ahead or behind the schedule they have for his move to the rotation. I would think sometime in July would be the time they want him to join the rotation and be the secret weapon for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs.

  9. I have been a little anxious about Puig since he was dropped by his agent. I notice that he is in none of the fotos shown on Dodgers Insider. He’s generally in the middle of things when he is around. So, I am wondering.

  10. I am willing to be convinced that Buehler is ready but haven’t seen evidence of it yet. The kid has thrown 103 innings at all levels in the past 2 seasons. He has only 93 minor league innings under his belt and only 23 AAA innings. He could use some seasoning.

    Last year’s performance was certainly underwhelming. I am not drawing any conclusions about his ultimate success in the majors based on 9 innings last year, but he didn’t look to be ready in September. Since he hasn’t pitched since then, I seriously doubt that he is ready now.

    From what I saw, he overthrows when he’s stressed (not unusual among younger pitchers), but when that happens, he looses his control and his fastball loses its movement.

    Maybe he’s a weapon in July or August, but not in April.

    1. I think a group of valley girls may have momentarily distrupted his path. He will use the tutledge from teammates on how to clear that out and become a proud and confident, pied piper of K’s, once again…

  11. Quas – Great hearing from you… Good music and good friends, it don’t get any better than that!!!
    I could use a page on digging old IP facts, but I wont… Todays top drafted pitchers are set up a yearly caps on IP and when they’re ready they go…
    Our favorite pitchers of yesteryear were in and out of the minors with alot of IP..
    Today it’s all about the cheddar… Monopoly $$$ and protecting your investment…
    I say let Buehler go , but from the Guggenheims down it caution and fiscal responsibility…

    1. Thanks Pete, plus the war stories that happened to us all in out teens and we also talked of lost loves that broke our hearts and wondered where they’re at now. Probably best to just keep wondering.

  12. Today, I learned that in the typical Dominican dish “Sococho” – a soup consisting of 7 different types meat, coming from 4 different animals, is a main staple of sorts. I’m now wondering? If we have 7 Secret Weapons and from what source they derive?

    I suppose, I’ll continue to broaden my horizon here soon, aye?

  13. Call me Bloody Mary Scriptor, writings on the wall
    Prophetic inhibitor, rosin bags bout to fall
    Desert Oasis, Kemp better move his ass
    Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past

    When you believe in things that you don’t understand
    Hollar for another
    Bloody Mary Scriptor he’ll show you the way

    Call me Bloody Mary Scriptor, cocktail napkins in the sand
    Rid ye of the problems, toxins will be canned
    Keep me under a shade tree, case Kemps strides go wrong
    A toast to Chase Utley, so Matt won’t hit the bong

    When you believe in things that you don’t understand
    Hollar for another
    Bloody Mary Scriptor, he’ll show you the way
    Bloody Mary Scriptor

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