Striker Buehler (I refuse to call him by his real name, because that is not a good name for a pitcher – in fact, I will pay for him to legally change it to “Striker” or maybe “No Hit“) has become the most exciting Dodger Rookie pitcher since… <Drumroll>…Fernando Valenzuela, who was just a freak. In his first eight starts in 1981, Fernando pitched eight straight complete games and sported a 8-0 record with a 0.50 ERA. That will never happen again, I can confidently say as the game has dramatically changed.
Hideo Nomo had a nice rookie season, but after his first three starts he had a 5.27 ERA. What about the great Clayton Kershaw? Don’t forget that he had a 4.26 ERA his first season, but after three starts his ERA was 4.91. Striker Buehler who is three years older than Clayton was as a rookie, now has a 1.13 ERA after his first three starts and has been part of a no-hitter! Ladies and gentlemen, I am going to submit to you that you are seeing the next Dodger Ace! Buehler may go back to the minors, but it will only be on paper. He will not pitch there again (unless it’s a rehab assignment). Take that to the bank!
If you saw the game, you know his stuff is filthy and like Clayton in his rookie year, like Corey, Cody and others, he has nothing more to learn at the minor league level. One key component is that Striker is three years older than Clayton was in his rookie year. I don’t expect him to put up a 1.13 ERA all year, but I think he will be in the 2.00’s. I can see him pitching up to 160 or 170 innings counting the playoffs. At some point or points, he will have to miss a start or three, but he will be part of the playoff rotation. This kid is special.
Speaking of special, the Dodgers bullpen is turning it around the past few games and last night, Cingrani was a little shaky with two walks, but he closed the door in the 7th inning while Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore were outstanding in the 8th and 9th innings. The bullpen will become a strength, not a liability, in my opinion. There will be challenges because until he went down, Ryu was the Dodgers best starter. Don’t look for him until August, but he should be fresh at the end of the season… if he doesn’t get too fat and it’s hard not to when you can’t do cardio. Keep and eye on that.
Here’s the thing to keep in mind about Buehler: He’s only going to get better. Let’s not forget about Julio Urias who is about to embark on a throwing program off the mound. His rookie season was BETTER than Clayton’s rookie season. He may finish the season in the pen, but will part of the rotation in 2019. Speaking of the 2019 rotation, Caleb Ferguson (0.33 ERA) and Dennis Santana (2.25 ERA) are loudly knocking at the door. Even Yadier Alvarez is flashing filthy stuff, but I see him as the Dodgers’ future closer.
I can’t say it enough – This organization is more loaded than it has ever been… in my opinion. Diaz, Raley, Peters, Smith and Ruiz are all forces to be reckoned with. Keibert Ruiz will be ready sooner than most think. You can see him learning and growing everyday at AA – his talent is undeniable.
I can see a situation whereby Puig and/or Pederson is traded for value, but Yasmani Grandal is not going anywhere unless the Dodgers fall out of contention… and that ain’t happening. I can sense a shift in thinking and resolve. These guys don’t panic, because FAZ and Doc don’t panic. They ride with players much longer than we fans do. We would throw the baby out with the bathwater, but they have been patient with Joc and Yasiel and others. They are not prone to knee-jerk reactions.
One thing is clear to me: Alex Verdugo is a batting champ-in-waiting. His bat-to-ball skills are some of the best I have even seen. He has nothing more to learn at AAA. Alex needs to play everyday in LA. Unfortunately, this may cost Andrew Toles a job. The Dodgers can afford to trade two outfielders: Pick two of Pederson, Puig and Toles.
On taking out Buehler after 6 innings, Dave Roberts said this:
“I just let him know, understanding how much of the game was left, he was totally complicit with where I was coming from and how important he is for the organization this year. He completely understood.”
Like Ken Gurnick said:
“Well, maybe not completely”.
Barring rainouts, Maeda and Hill will pitch the last two games in Mexico.
Photo Credit: Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press
MINOR LEAGUE RECAP by AlwaysCompete
Two lefties started and pitched superbly for the two top Dodgers’ affiliates and accounted for the two wins.
OKC – 5-1 Win over Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Brewers)
Manny Banuelos had another outstanding start for OKC and with the win is now 4-0. Banuelos pitched 5.0 innings allowing 0 runs, on 4 hits 3 BB, and 5 K. Banuelos was capably followed by Scott Alexander, Pat Venditte, C.C. Lee, and Joe Broussard, each pitching 1.0 inning. The lone Sky Sox run came on a C. C. Lee wild pitch. Broussard struck out the side to end the game. Alexander allowed 1 hit and registered 1 K, as did Venditte.
Not only was Banuelos the pitching star, but he was also the offensive star. Banuelos hit a bases clearing 3 run double in the 2nd. Thinking he was faster than he was, he tried to leg the hit into a triple, but was thrown out at 3rd. Jake Peter and Henry Ramos both had 2 hit nights.
OKC is now 13-0 at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark to start the season, and overall is 20-6, continuing with the best record in the PCL.
Tulsa – 10-3 Win over Arkansas Travelers (Mariners)
Caleb Ferguson started and pitched 6 shutout innings. He allowed 4 hits, 1 BB, and 1 K. He bested former Dodger prospect Chase De Jong. Dylan Baker (1.0 IP) and Corey Copping (2.0 IP) followed Ferguson to secure the victory.
Every Driller got at least one hit with DJ Peters (HR), Yusniel Diaz (double), Keibert Ruiz, Connor Joe (double), and Errol Robinson (double) each having 2 hits on the night. Errol Robinson registered his 5th stolen base. In addition to Peters’ 5th HR, Drew Jackson (4th), and Will Smith (4th) also hit HR’s.
Rancho Cucamonga – 8-1 Loss to the Visalia Rawhide (DBacks)
Not a whole lot of positives in this game. Not great pitching, horrible infield defense, and very little offense led to this drubbing. Jordan Sheffield was in trouble in each of the 5 innings he took the mound. In addition to the 3 runs, 8 hits, 2 BB, and 4 K he allowed in 4.2 IP, he also uncorked 2 wild pitches. Jordan is now 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA. He is not at all looking like his Vanderbilt teammate (Walker Buehler) or his brother in the Yankees system (Justus), and SO FAR is not looking worthy of his CBA draft slot in 2016. But he doesn’t turn 23 until next month, so time is certainly on his side. IMO, Jordan needs to realize he is not a MLB starting pitcher, and move to the pen, where he has loads and loads of upside. He still has a very live arm, but it just may not be suited for starting. He needs experience in high leverage relief situations, as that is where he will unlikely end up, and probably do very well.
Saige Jenco had 2 hits, and Gavin Lux reached base 3 times on a double (10th) and 2 walks.
Great Lakes – 2-1 Loss to the Kane County Cougars (DBacks)
Edwin Uceta started and went 4.0 innings allowing both runs on 3 hits, 2 walks and 6 K. His lone blemish was the 2 out, 2 run HR he allowed in the 2nd inning. Otherwise it was another outstanding outing for the 20 year old RHP. Following Uceta was Andre Scrubb, Devin Hemmerich, and Aneurys Zabala who combined on 5 scoreless innings. In typical Zabala style, he struck out 2 and walked 2 in his 1.0 inning of work. If he ever gets it together, watch out. Like Ariel Hernandez, a BIG IF.
The Loons mustered all of 4 singles on the evening; 2 by Brayan Morales and 2 by Starling Heredia. Morales also had 2 walks and a stolen base (12). Not all was positive for Brayan, as he was also caught twice (4).
OKC – Brock Stewart
Tulsa – Yadier Alvarez
RC – Tony Gonsolin
GL – TBD