The Next Big Thing: Striker Buehler!

No pitcher should ever be called “Walker,” so I have taken the liberty of changing his name to “Striker” Buehler.  I thought about spelling his name with a “Y” instead of an “I” but that just wasn’t as effective. Also, if a pitcher struggles with an aspect of his game, like walking too many batters, which Buehler does, you should never call him by his weakness.  It’s negative thinking and we can’t have that.  Have you ever heard a pitcher be named “Hit Batter” or “Home Run” or “Human Rain Delay?” OK, well, I guess that used to fit El Gasolino, who has actually been better this year.  If he keeps it up, DodgerRick will have to change Pedro’s name to El Kerosino – he just not as explosive… but I digress… which I almost always do.

I really don’t know what to expect tonight, but I will say that I think Striker will be very good or very bad – I’m leaning to the good! Baseball Americaranks him the #13 prospect in MLB and says this:

Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 60 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 60
Scouting Report: Buehler is thin-framed, but that doesn’t affect his stuff or the ability to hold it. His newly-enhanced fastball sits 97-98 mph deep into outings, reaching 100 and rarely dipping below 95. It jumps on hitters quickly out of his loose, athletic, elastic delivery, and he pounds the strike zone. The one shortcoming of his fastball is it doesn’t have a ton of life, making it easier for hitters to square up when he misses his spot, a problem that was exposed during his September callup in the Dodgers bullpen. Buehler’s slider and curveball are both plus pitches he locates well. His slider is a wipeout offering at 91-93 mph with tight spin and late tilt, and his north-to-south power curveball is equally dangerous at 81-84 mph. Buehler is still working on his changeup, with only about one in five he throws flashing average. He shows average to above command and control on all of his offerings. To top it off, he has a fearless mentality, exceptional makeup and a solid understanding of how to set hitters up.

This is a kid who can be very good, very quickly IF, BIG IF,he can locate that fastball.  He should forget his change for now… or give it to Clayton.  We’ve been waiting for this for a while.  Here we go!

Rants & Raves

  • So with all the moaning and groaning and complaining, the Dodgers are .500 and off to a better start than last year. How about them apples?
  • I find it incomprehensible that Dave Roberts have been so degraded this year.  Just the opposite is true.  Doc is truly amazing.
  • Why did Joc play the last couple of days?  Of course, some of you want to say it’s because Dave is just stupid.  They don’t even consider that Matt Kemp might be a little bit tweaked… which he was. Stick to your days jobs.  Doc has this one!
  • Conner Wong obviously needs to move to Tulsa, but they have two catchers. I think it’s time he moves to 2B or 3B… or both.  The Dodgers have enough catchers and this kid is way above A Ball.  I think he should abandon catching all together.
  • Goodbye Wilmer Font… well it may or may not be goodbye if he clears waivers.  He was worthy of a shot and the Dodgers gave it to him.  He couldn’t make it count, but you never know when the light just goes on.  That’s why you keep trying. AskCharlie Morton– many baseball insiders said he was the worst signing of the 2016-2017 off-season.  He will be 35 this season and is one of the best starters in baseball right about now, with a 0.72 ERA.
  • The season is young.  Verdugo and Toles are in the wings and there will be some changes…
  • JT will be back before we know it.
  • For the record, I can’t see any way Chris Taylor does not play CF the bulk of the time.  I am pretty sure he has saved 3 games this year.  That’s more saves than Kenley!
  • Speaking of Kenley – it looked like he just “flipped the switch” yesterday and said “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

This article has 54 Comments

  1. I think Taylor is a very good CF. Our weakest position on the team right now is second base. That is why I would move Taylor to second and bring up Toles. When you have Kemp, Taylor, and Puig in the outfield, I see no room for Toles or Verdugo. Then send Joc to AAA to figure out his problem. He may be worth saving. Bring up Verdugo to be your 4th outfielder. I think Verdugo can play all four outfield positions. He can replace Kemp in the late innings and give Toles and Puig some rest. That will give him enough at bats to justify Verdugo be up in the majors.

    1. There would be a lot more doubles and triples given up. I can’t see it. A GG CF can save a lot of runs.

      BTW, why do people say that SS is Kike’s worst position? I don’t see it. In fact, I see the opposite!

  2. After a bunch of preliminary BS fodder in my response to Peter J about what I thought Buehler would do, I summed it up with 5 solid innings and that he would keep the Dodgers in the game. I did not think that he would get to third time in the lineup, and he only went to three batters third time up. He relied on his fastball quite a bit, and why not? I think he went a solid 5 innings. Tremendous starting debut.
    I have always believed that SS was Kike’s best position which is why he is perfect for the Dodgers to give Seager a night off. Kike’is having a game.
    Nothing against Max Muncy who I like, but wouldn’t it have been nice to have another RH bat to face the LHP with Barnes at 2B in the 5th? Four lefties on the bench. This would have been a perfect time to bring up Locastro. I know sometimes I have a knack for overthinking.

    1. AC

      I agree with you, this is the best time to bring Locastro up, when his confidence is high, and an infielder is needed.

  3. AC – you summed it up and thanks… I would have tossed the question to M.T. but sometimes he stares into the pool too long…
    So here we go Walker… You get the Hated Ones in their crib!!! Enjoy MLB life, talk alot to coaches and players… Keep thinking you belong…
    Stryker??? Really… Time for DC..

    1. Where did you leave your sense of humor? At the bottom of the pool? That’s what I was staring at…

  4. Good point Socaldodgerfan. Three outfield positions. That is what happens when you watch the game and write at the same time.

  5. That was too close for comfort.

    AC, you were very accurate in your prediction.

    Great debut from Walker.
    I remember all the hype surrounding Urias’s debut, but this was better.
    When Hill is healthy, we really do have a strong Starting Staff.

    Ross Stripling going about his job very efficiently.

    Season beginning to get going.

  6. Buehler pitched 5 very good innings.
    I think it was time for Font to go.
    Taylor is the Dodger center fielder and belongs there, not second base.
    If I’m stupid for questioning why Pederson is even on the team, then I’m stupid.
    As I said before, I think Roberts is a great communicator but just an average game manager.
    What we think we know as fans are probably all wrong for many reasons but for now these are my thoughts. Sorry, Mark, sometimes I just don’t agree with you, but I will stay with my day job.

    1. Hey, I’m stupid too. I don’t know why Joc is on the team… well I know, but I’m not a fan either.

      Don’t apologize for disagreeing. We all have opinions and it is tongue-in-cheek!

      1. I think the debate is no longer “Is Toles better than Joc?”; I think the debate is now, “Is Verdugo better than Toles.”

        Theoretically, Joc fits fairly well on the team as an Ethier-esque bench bat and reserve outfielder, but because of the way we structure our roster that means we are left deficient in other areas.

        I’m not giving up on Joc yet but I’m getting anxious to see Toles/Verdugo debut this year, especially in light of Puig’s struggles and our need for as much offensive production as we can get.

  7. Fields has looked really good this year. I’m glad he got the chance to close last night; shows us that he can be an effective late inning guy.

    1. We need it too. The prospect we traded for him [Yordan Alvarez] has quickly blossomed into a ranked prospect and could be an MLB-quality 1B in short order. Even though we currently have Bellinger, there is no such thing as too much talent and we can’t afford many more deals like that one. Yes there’s always a risk in trading a prospect, but when it’s done for a pretty common commodity [reliever], we need to make sure it’s not going to bite us that much in the end. I guess we can’t win every trade but we can damn sure try!

  8. I’ve never though Short was Kike’s best position but he had a game last night.
    Barnes looked a bit shaky on defense last night.

  9. 7 out of 8 and the pitching match ups favor the Dodgers in the next 2. Then on the road to face Giants and Snakes. Buehler needs only to work on his command and get stretched out, he is the future, why not the present? Stripling continues to be the most valuable bullpen guy so far. Kike rewards Doc’s faith with a huge game.

    Thompson was given a chance but has now been DFA’d by 3 teams in a few weeks and back home with the Chisox. Font was given a chance and failed but will still probably be claimed by some team that needs a starter. Joc is now being given a chance to sink or swim. I had a feeling Kemp had a tweak of some kind giving Joc more run. This appears to be a year when a lot of kids will get a look with the big club.

  10. I think Roberts should bat Puig eighth like he did last year, so Puig has to wait for his pitch, or take a walk.

    That is when Puig really started to break out last year.

    I normally wouldn’t suggest he should hit eighth, but it might help Puig break out.

  11. Prospects–By my count, five of our top prospects are OFs, five are RHPs, three are Cs, one is a LHP [Ferguson], and one is a MIF [Lux].

    We’re a little bit unbalanced right now but it might not matter because of our fairly solid major league IF [with the potential exception of 2b and 3b (due to injury)] and depth of LHSPs.

    Buehler is a HUGE piece if he can stick and I think we all foresee an upgrade to 2b by opening day 2019 at the latest.

  12. Did Walker face the Hated Ones in relief last year??? If not, could be a good think I thinks… Go out and throw pitches and hit the target!!! Easy peasy… Granny will pull em in… Forsythe back soon and CT3 back to CF…

    1. I think the problem with Buehler is that his stuff is so electric it’s hard for him to control it. I have to go back to Dreifort to think of a similar arm that we’ve developed. Maybe a bit of Edwin Jackson? I think I read that comp somewhere else. Of course he’s ideally a starter but it’s scary to think about what he could be coming out of the pen. This whole season feels like a long con. The only thing that matters is where we stand [in terms of record, roster, & health] on the eve of the postseason. The talent level in this organization is easily top five in baseball–likely top three.

  13. Has Ferguson passed Alvarez on the prospect list? Santana has clearly separated himself from Alvarez [and possibly White]. I get so tired of talk of “upside” with LHPs; it’s like they’re either the next Glavine or a likely wash-out. I’d like to think Ferguson is proving something this year. Top ten prospect by 2019? Thoughts?

    1. Top ten might be pushing it but he’s firmly cemented himself in the sub-Buehler strata of Santana/May/White/Alvarez and above Sheffield/Abdullah/Cooper/Marinan. His ceiling might not be as high as some of those other names, but even if he makes it as a reliever he’s a success. The attrition rate on pitching prospects is just so damn high. Look at Urias for heaven’s sake. Considering Buehler is about the first homegrown starter since Billingsley, it’s hard to get too greedy about Ferguson. If he’s late-career Eric Stults we’ll take that right now.

      1. I don’t count Urias out. I think we will be him in July or August and his surgery found no major damage .. unlike Ryu’s.

    2. Most Prospects Lists consider the player’s ceiling when the players are evaluated. A pitcher like Yadier Alvarez has an extremely high ceiling, but also a very low floor. The same is true for non- pitchers like Jeren Kendall. On the other hand, Caleb Ferguson does not possess the pitching repertoire that those ahead of him have, but his floor is much higher than many of those not named Walker Buehler. So while he will not be an Ace, at 21 and pitching very well at AA, he has a projectable future as a MLB pitcher. It is entirely possible that Alvarez can drop, but I do not believe there are enough prospects ahead of Caleb that will drop below his current #16 level for him to get into the Top 10.
      It’s also difficult to project where Morgan Cooper and James Marinan will end up once they start to pitch this year. I think they both end up higher than either Sheffield or Abdullah, but they will have to be very good to pass Ferguson. White and Alvarez also need to start soon to see where they should be placed. While considering their ceilings, they are both properly placed above Caleb. I can’t move Santana above White until I see what White can do
      Caleb Ferguson is once again having a very good year. He is only 21 and pitching well at AA. He is younger than White, Alvarez. and Santana. Ferguson would be in my Top 10, but I am biased as I have been a fan since his Great Lakes days. More objective evaluators would place him exactly where is in the pitching mix.

  14. Mini – Minor League Report
    Tulsa Drillers – Lost 6-5 to Arkansas Travelers (Seattle) – Monday – 04/24/2018
    Dennis Santana started for the Drillers and went 4.0 innings. He allowed 1 unearned run on 0 hits, 2 BB, and 3K. He reached his 75 pitch limit as was pulled. In his last 2 games, Santana has allowed 1 unearned run on 1 hit over 8.1 IP. He had 3 walks against 13 K’s. For the season, Santana has 18.0 IP, and has surrendered 4 R (3 earned), 8 H, 5 BB, and 25K. His WHIP is 0.72, with a batting average against of .127. He has had a great start, but only has a 0-1 record to show for it.
    Karch Kowalczyk pitched a very ineffective .1 inning (29 pitches), and after allowing 1 run, on 3 hits, 1 BB, and 1K, he was done. The Dodgers have a 30 pitch inning limit for their minor league pitchers, and when Karch reached it in the 5th, he was done. Michael Johnson did pitch well in his 2.1 innings; 0 runs 1 hit, 2 BB, and 2K.
    Brian Moran also had a 30 pitch 8th and was pulled, but not before surrendering 2 runs on 4 hits. Dylan Baker finished the 8th with no further damage.
    With all of the poor relief pitching, the Drillers took a 5-4 lead in the 9th with a 3 run HR by Keibert Ruiz. Enter the home half of the 9th, but with Corey Copping, Shea Spitzbarth, Josh Sborz, and Ariel Hernandez all unavailable, and the 4 other relievers already used, Michael Ahmed was asked to come in from SS to pitch the 9th and try to preserve the win. As you might expect, Ahmed allowed the 2 winning runs on 1 hit and 3 BB.
    The offense centered on Ruiz and LF Luke Raley who both had 2 hits including HR’s; Raley his 2nd, and Ruiz his 3rd. Kyle Garlick got the final hit for the Drillers.
    Chase De Jong went 7 innings for the Travelers, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, 3 walks, and 6 K. Chase was in a position to win except his relief pitcher allowed the 3 run HR to Ruiz.
    Tulsa Drillers – Lost to Arkansas Travelers (Seattle) – Tuesday – 04/25/2018
    Caleb Ferguson had another outstanding start today with 5.0 shutout IP, allowing 3 hits, 2 walks and 5 K’s. His ERA is now down to 0.59, and his WHIP has worked itself down to 1.11 after registering a 3.00WHIP on his first start. In his 15.1 IP, he has surrendered 4 runs (1 earned), on 4 hits, 6 walks, and 20K’s.
    Unfortunately Ariel Hernandez and Josh Sborz were unable to hold the lead. Hernandez pitched 1.2 innings and gave up 3 runs on 5 hits and 3 K’s. Not to be outdone, Sborz gave up a 3 run HR in his .2 innings of work. Sborz walked 2 and C Joseph Odom hit his 1 HR to give the Travelers the 6-3 lead. Shea Spitzbarth got the final 2 outs in the 8th with no further damage. Sborz got the loss and is now 2-1 on the season.
    Luke Raley had another multi-hit games with 2 singles. Jacob Scavuzzo hit his 3rd HR on the season, and Kyle Garlick and Peter O’Brien each added a double.
    Great Lakes Loons – 3-1 Loss to Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres)
    The biggest upside was Edwin Uceta had 5.0 IP, allowing 1 run on 2 hits, 2 BB, and 3K. Leo Crawford relieved Uceta, allowing 2 runs in innings 6-8. Zach Pop followed up his last good relief outing with another. This time in 1.0 IP he allowed 0 base runners and collected 2K.
    The offense consisted of 2 hit games from Romer Cuadrado and Moises Perez, with Starling Heredia and Brayan Morales getting 2 additional singles.
    Tonight’s Starting Pitchers:
    RC – Tony Gonsolin
    GL – Jesus Vargas
    Tomorrow’s Pitchers:
    OKC – Brock Stewart
    Tul – Frank Duncan
    RC – TBD
    GL – Max Gamboa


    – The Los Angeles Dodgers today selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Daniel Hudson (#41) from Triple-A Oklahoma City and optioned right-handed pitcher Walker Buehler to Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

    Hudson, 31, who signed a minor-league contract with the Dodgers on March 30, has made five relief appearances with the OKC Dodgers this season and has yet to allow a hit in 4.2 innings, while striking out five batters. The veteran right-hander, who was traded to Tampa Bay from Pittsburgh on February 22, appeared in seven games with the Rays during Spring Training, allowing nine runs in 5.1 innings with six strikeouts.

    In 2017, Hudson spent the entire season with the Pirates, his first year with the organization, as he set a career-high in appearances (71), which also tied for 11th most among National League relievers. He posted a 2-7 record with a 4.38 ERA (30 ER/61.2 IP) and struck out 66 batters against 33 walks, while limiting hitters to a .248 average.

    The Lynchburg, Virginia, native has gone 37-30 with nine saves and has posted a 3.98 ERA in 270 career big league games (59 starts) over eight Major League seasons with the White Sox (2009-10), Diamondbacks (2010-16) and Pirates (2017). He has struck out 501 career batters against 178 walks, while holding the opposition to a .252 average, including a .247 mark against lefties. Hudson was originally selected by the White Sox in the fifth round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft from Old Dominion University.

    Buehler, who was recalled prior to last night’s contest, made his 2018 debut and his first career big league start against the Marlins. The 23-year-old allowed just four hits over 5.0 scoreless innings and struck out five batters, as he did not factor in the decision in the Dodgers 2-1 victory.

    With the addition of Hudson, the Dodgers 40-man is now at 40 players.

  16. Dang,

    Striker pitches 5 shutout innings and they send him back to the minors.

    Not AAA!

    Not AA!

    To A Ball – RC!

    1. Why have him travel to OKC when he will be pitching in the doubleheader on Saturday? RC makes it an easy ride to catch the team plan to SFO. He doesn’t even have to change hotels

  17. Walker will be close to the Ravine… Just like our rehab folks do on occasion..
    Will he still get a start in Frisco with the 10 day MLB-Shuffle???
    I’m asking becuz I’m holding tickets for the Giant series….

    1. I think he will make his next start and the one after that, and the one … you get my drift.

      He needs to pitch in the Majors and will! Hill or Maeda will go to the pen.

  18. Mark, patience is a virtue.

    Maybe the Pederson haters are not virtuous people. 🙂

    Buehler looked good last night. But lack of consistent command could become a problem. I suspect he would have had a more difficult time against a stronger lineup. But all the ingredients for success are there. It may only take continued maturity and time to get acclimated and comfortable at the big league level.

    1. Do you remember how Clayton drove us crazy? Striker is older than Clayton was… but he also throws 100!

  19. Mark, I read Weisman’s article. He tries to say Joc had good years in 2015-16. He was bad in 2017 and now this year. I am 78 years old so maybe my memory is not as good anymore. In 2015 he had a good first half when he broke in with the Dodgers. The second half was horrible when the pitchers figured him out and he did not adjust. He just kept swinging for the fences. In 2016 it was either a HR or a SO, and a low batting average. In 2017 it was just a bad year. Yes, he did something in the play offs. This year he has cut down on his SO, but still cannot hit for an average. He is at best right now a sub outfielder. He certainly may be worth saving. However, I just think he should be sent down to AAA to figure out his problem. I will still root for him as long as he is a Dodger.

  20. You got it Common… I often check the time stamp… No use complaining… Watch for comments closed… Join us nonetheless…
    Joe West is an embarrassment to the umpiring union… Steaming crapola with legs… Feel better now..

  21. Anything other than a sweep of the Marlins is a failure. Bringing in Baez in the 9th at home while Kenley sits in the pen is freakin brilliant Doc.

  22. Oh,,, My.. God.. How many times does this need to happen with El Gasolino? Like trying to fit a round peg into a F@E#RR^ing hole!!

  23. Tough loss to a bad team and at home to boot but they are not going to win many games 2-1. It’s the hitting not the pitching that’s the problem. Fields closed last night and Kenley is getting rusty, is he still not 100% healthy?

  24. Gee, Mark, please tell us again how Doc ‘has this one’.
    I hate to repeat myself, as Bum well knows, but until Doc learns how to make out a decent lineup card and shows that he is capable of handling the bullpen, he is off my Christmas list.

  25. After previously summarizing the early Tulsa game, there were two evening games where the Dodger affiliates split a pair of games. Not a whole lot of action, and very few stand out performances.
    Rancho Cucamonga Quakes – 8-2 Loss to the Stockton Ports (A’s)
    Tony Gonsolin started and went 4.1 innings allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits, and registered 6 K’s. This was not good outing for Gonsolin. Chris Mathewson completed 1.2 innings allowing a HR. Imani Abdullah had another successful relief appearance pitching 1.0 inning striking out 3. However he did uncork 2 WP, one on a K, to put a slight blemish on otherwise outstanding game. Perhaps we are seeing the transformation of another starter to the bullpen.
    The offense consisted of Rylan Bannon’s 6th HR on the campaign, and 6 singles from 6 different players.
    Great Lakes Loons – 5-0 Win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres)
    Jesus Vargas started and won his second consecutive game with another 5 shutout innings. Vargas allowed 3 hits and 1 walk and struck out 3 batters, before being removed. Vargas threw 51 pitches, 37 for strikes. Dan Jagiello followed with 2.0 innings of 1 hit, 2 BB, and 3 K pitching. Aneurys Zabala continued with his Jekyll & Hyde season. Last night he threw 2.0 innings of shutout/hitless baseball. He did have 2 K’s on the evening.
    C Ramon Rodriguez went 2-3 with a 3 run HR, and 4 RBI’s overall, while 1B Nick Yarnall added a 2-4 night. Brandon Montgomery contributed a triple.

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