The Most Exciting Dodger Rookie Pitcher Since…

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.

Here’s some great Photos of the Dodgers arriving in Mexico.

Photo Credit:  Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press



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 5thstolen base.  In addition to Peters’ 5thHR, 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), andSO FARis 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 2ndinning.  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).


Starting Pitchers:


OKC – Brock Stewart

Tulsa – Yadier Alvarez

RC – Tony Gonsolin


This article has 38 Comments

  1. Buehler has stud type talent. He’s becoming must see for me
    Verdugo has the best swing on this team , aside from JT. I think he’ll hit for a higher average than Seager. He needs to be put in the 2 hole and stay there for the next 15 years.
    Yimi Garcia looked great last night. That will be a huge huge plus for our pen!

  2. A rotation coming soon to a stadium near you
    Kershaw (Stewart should Kershaw opt out)

    1. IF Kershaw opts out (and I’m not that sure he will), there has to be a better option than Stewart.

    1. Wait until the off-season and sign him as a free agent and not lose any prospects.

      1. Some of the Dodger prospect have a better chance of playing in and being paid at MLB salaries on the Orioles than the Dodgers.

  3. Here is one for you statistical savants… Who were the pitchers drafted ahead of Beuhler and where are they now??

    1. Right in my wheelhouse…
      There were 9 pitchers drafted ahead of Walker Buehler in 2015.
      1. Dillon Tate – 24 – RHP selected by Texas (#4 overall) – Traded to the Yankees with Nick Green & Erik Swanson for Carlos Beltran.
      He is now at AA – Trenton Thunder (Eastern League) – 5GS, 22.1 IP, 5.24 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 5 BB, 21K. He is considered #11 NYY prospect.
      2. Tyler Jay – 24 – LHP selected by Twins (#6 overall) –
      AA – Chattanooga Lookouts (Southern League) – 4G, 7.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 3 BB, 6 K
      #16 Minnesota Twins prospect.
      3. Carson Fulmer – 23 – RHP selected by White Sox (#8 overall) – College teammate of Walker Buehler. Fulmer is in the Chicago White Sox rotation. He was first called up in 2016 and pitched in relief. This year – 7G, 7GS, 28.2 IP, 5.02 ERA, 1.605 WHIP, 15 BB, 24 K
      4. Kolby Allard – 20 – LHP selected by the Braves (#14 overall) –
      AAA – Gwinnett (International League) – 5 GS, 28.0 IP, 2.57 ERA, 1.107 WHIP, 9 BB, 22 K – #6 Braves prospect (in a very good farm system). 20 years old at AAA. Very legit prospect.
      5. James Kaprelian – 24- RHP selected by Yankees (#16 overall) – Traded to the A’s with Jorge Mateo, and Dustin Fowler for Sonny Gray. This could very well go down as one of the worst trades NYY has done. Mateo is the #4 A’s prospect, Fowler is the #5 A’s prospect, and Kaprelian is the #9 A’s prospect). Kaprelian had TJ surgery on 04-13-17 and has not yet pitched this year. He has a very high upside, and comes out of the UCLA pitcher pipeline. John Savage knows and develops pitchers.
      6. Brady Aiken – 21 – LHP selected by Cleveland (#17 overall) – He had TJ surgery in 2015. Last year he pitched in the Midwest League – full season A ball. He has not yet pitched this year. He has seemingly lost control and his star is losing its shine. He is the Indians #29 prospect, with a current ceiling as a #5 in the rotation.
      7. Phil Bickford – 22 – RHP selected by the Giants (#18 overall) – He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in the Will Smith trade. Bickford’s 2017 was a rough year as he was suspended 50 games for PED usage and had hand surgery. He is currently listed on the AZL Brewers roster.
      8. Ashe Russell – 21 – RHP selected by the Royals (#21 overall) – Russell has temporarily left baseball (2016). He has not retired and has not been released by the Royals. The Royals are hoping that Russell will return to baseball as Zach Greinke did after he also temporarily walked away.
      9. Beau Burrows – 21 – RHP selected by Detroit (#22 overall) –
      AA – Erie Sea Wolves (Eastern League) – 4G, 4GS, 19.2 IP, 3.66 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 8 BB, 18 K.
      Burrows is rated as the #4 RHP prospect for the Tigers and #4 overall prospect for the Tigers. He has a very high ceiling.

  4. I believe that Buehler has a chance to be special, but at the same time I’m not going to get carried away by a single stellar performance. And I wouldn’t even venture to predict how many innings Buehler will pile up this year. That will depend upon circumstances, including the number pitches he throws, which is dependent on how his command develops.

    As for Verdugo, I absolutely love him, and want him in the lineup everyday, no matter who is pitching. The kid has exceptional bat to ball skills.

    Bullpen looks a lot better, but at this point I’m just hopeful that it is sustainable. We have additional promising prospects, but I’ll keep my mind open about prospects I haven’t yet seen with my own two eyes.

    I have no problem with trading anyone as long as we get value in return. But unlike some around here, I’m very reluctant to move Puig. He started out this year hitting into a lot of hard luck, and he is, in my estimation one of the best, if not the best, defensive right fielders in the game.

  5. Mark, this has happened to before. While posting from my phone I received a captcha error, which included an option to go back. Problem is, that going back wiped out my entire post, and I don’t have the time nor the inclination to go back and re-write it.

    to go back and re-write it.

  6. OK. That second post was unnecessary. Apparently my original remarks were posted after I went “back”, which leads me to wonder why it asked me to go back in the first place. And that comes from someone who generally doesn’t have problems with technology.

    Maybe it’s just old age.

  7. AC/DC: how quickly can Caleb Ferguson move up the system? Also has Lux now figured it out? Will Tulsa happen for him this year ?

    1. OK, I will bite:

      Lux is 20 and if he keeps this up another few weeks at RC, he WILL move to Tulsa.

      On Ferguson: He can’t keep this pace up, can he? But if he does, he will be headed to OKC or maybe LA (if he keeps it up). He is unconscious and un-hittable right about now. He will be 22 in July, so anything is possible. I have always thought he would be a reliever… until now.

    2. I have been as hard on Lux as anybody, and I am happy to see him turn things around after a 1-20 start this year. He is batting a robust .343/.443/.471/.913 at RC. .443 OBP is outstanding at any level. He has 18 BB against 20 K. After his 1-20 start, Lux has hit in 19 of the next 21 games since. He is not a power hitting SS, but he does have 10 doubles, good for #2 in the Cal League. He is also #3 in BA, and #2 in OBP. Neither Drew Jackson or Errol Robinson project to be ML SS, so I would like to see Gavin get the push to AA.
      Bo Bichette is already at AA and is slashing .306/.376/.449/.825 with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Let’s get Lux to Tulsa and see what he can do.
      As hard as I have been on Lux, I have been equally as strong of an advocate for Caleb Ferguson. His ceiling is as a #3-#5 in the rotation. He does not turn 22 until July, so he is pitching above his age, and dare I say dominating. He does not have a signature pitch, but he can control 3 pitches. He still needs to work on the command so he can place those 3 wherever and whenever he can. He does not quite have the fastball that Trevor Oaks has, but his secondary pitches are better. He should get a call to OKC this year and be pushed as much as Oaks was.

      1. Lux’s body is different this year. He has filled out and is stronger.

  8. The question is, if Verdugo is going to stay up, who will go down, when Puig returns?

    Because Forsythe is close to returning, and Turner will return soon after Forsythe.

      1. JT would replace Muncy, Forsythe would send LoCastro down and Puig sends Farmer to AAA. Or it could be Joc who has been outplayed by Verdugo so far. (the trade candidate?) Or it could be a shorter bullpen and 5 man bench. (Kike, Utley and Barnes with Verdugo and Joc) 2 LH hitting OF’s who can play CF are ok with Puig, Kemp and Kike all RH, assuming Taylor stays at SS. A 12 man staff could work the way they use the option express from OKC to bring in fresh arms as needed, and the starters are getting more stretched out.

        The game Gerrit Cole pitched yesterday against AZ was a gem, better than the combined no hitter IMO. Verlander goes today and I predict another dominant showing against the rookie Koch. The Snakes have not been hitting, except for Peralta and Pollock and they ran into a buzzsaw Fri. I also predict the Astros fastball hitting lineup tees off on Greinke Sun. with his fastball sitting at 89 last out against the Blue. There could be 2 sweeps brewing, how fast the worm can turn.

        1. Flip flop the match ups in Phoenix, Greinke goes today against Morton and Verlander tomorrow against Koch. I’m at the broom store now stocking up. The Dodgers also have the pitching match up advantage today and tomorrow as both Mitchell and Lauer have struggled so far. Hill might have some command issues early with his time off but should prevail. Maeda has been dominant at times this season.

  9. For all of the negative comments directed to Brandon McCarthy (mostly deserved) he is 4-0 for the Braves and is going against SF Giants tonight. He has pitched 32.0 innings and has a 3.09 ERA. I am sure everyone will be wishing Brandon good luck for tonight.
    And in my proverbial beating of the dead horse commentary, Gerrit Cole pitched a 1 hit complete game shutout against the DBacks last night.

    1. AC

      I love you, but McCarthy always seems to make most of his starts, and pitch well, in his contract year.

      1. I am not saying I want him on the Dodgers, I just want him to beat the Giants and go to 5-0.

        1. AC

          See how rude he is, he can’t even help us, against the Giants, after all the money the Dodgers gave him!

    2. I hear that the Pirates wanted Buehler or Verdugo and a couple more prospects. Total rumor…

      1. Ha. Despite this performance though, the young braves look like a team to watch for the next few years

      2. That’s the worthless piece of crap FAZ gave $48 million. Just saying!!!

  10. Dodgers’ bullpen still stinks apparently. Offense still can’t score runs in spite of lots of hits. These are the Padres – one of the 5 worst teams in baseball. This still isn’t good

  11. Padres looked liked they wanted it more after being no hit plus giving up 3 home games to play in Mexico. Greinke baffled the Stros with his now slower fastball. Wonder if the broom store takes returns? There were some bright spots but they are not there yet.

  12. Taylor’s (I am not playing CF) bat heating up.
    Verdugo can do everything except get an RBI.

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