May 25, 2024

Walker Buehler to make MLB return from Tommy John surgery Monday vs. Marlins, Dave Roberts says


PHOENIX — Walker Buehler’s wait to return to a big-league mound will come to an end after 696 days as the Los Angeles Dodgers star will take the ball Monday against the Miami Marlins, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed Wednesday night.

It’s been 20 months since Buehler underwent his second Tommy John surgery, pushing one of the Dodgers’ most prominent young starters into the background. Now, accompanied by one of the most star-studded rosters in the sport, Buehler returns to a rotation eagerly awaiting his reinforcement.

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No one might be more raring to go than Buehler. The two-time All-Star has been on the brink of a return seemingly for months, ramping up enough to get into a minor-league rehab game last September before shutting things down. The Dodgers slow-played Buehler’s progress this spring training in an effort to cut down on his future workload in his first season post-surgery; he didn’t pitch in his first official game until after spring training, taking more than a month and requiring six starts on his rehab assignment before the club made his return official on Tuesday by optioning rookie Landon Knack to the minors.

His velocity has returned to the mid-90s, and he flashed his wide array of complementary options in his final tune-up with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday, finishing with five innings of one-run ball.

“I think he’s going to still be Walker,” Roberts said Wednesday. “He’s going to be attacking. But I think that there’s attacking with his entire repertoire — I think that in years past, it was heavy fastball, heavy cutter … I think that Walker has more weapons (now). And I think that’s what my hope is, instead of just trying to bully guys. But again, he’s gonna do what he does.”

Buehler’s confidence throughout has been loud. That bravado has always been hitched along with him. This spring, the right-hander pushed back on the idea that his rehab was taking longer than anticipated. He’s aware of the scattered track record for two-time Tommy John recipients, though he’s quick to point to the successes.

This, of course, remains a big year for him. Buehler, who entertained potential extension talks with the Dodgers that never gained traction before his injury, is a free agent at year’s end.

He, as much as anyone, will be incentivized to help this Dodgers club. Offseason additions Tyler Glasnow and Yoshinobu Yamamoto have been excellent, but the rest of the rotation must still sort itself out. Bobby Miller is on the shelf with shoulder trouble. Emmet Sheehan hasn’t pitched all season. Gavin Stone has been inconsistent. James Paxton has walked a tightrope with each start and avoided disaster. Clayton Kershaw and Dustin May appear to be coming behind Buehler, but they must sort through the hurdles of long rehabs of their own.

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(Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today)





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