Walker Buehler’s season was already heading for another disappointing turn Friday night after giving up three runs in four innings against the San Francisco Giants.
By the end of the Dodgers’ 7-2 loss, however, Buehler’s overwhelming stats were the least of his concerns.
After leaving the game after just four innings and 70 pitches, the Dodgers announced that Buehler had a right elbow problem. The team didn’t immediately realize how serious the injury was. Buehler said he will get tests Saturday morning.
Buehler said the problem first arose after he threw a breaking ball in the third inning. He tried to make his way through but left the game before the start of the fifth when the discomfort didn’t abate.
Asked about his concern, Buehler said he didn’t want to speculate until he and the team’s training staff had more information. He said since undergoing surgery from Tommy John as a potential patient in 2015, he’s had various sensations in his elbow over the years. However, this one was “just a little bit different and something we need to look at,” he said.
Manager Dave Roberts added: “I’m trying not to push myself too far. But any time you talk about the elbow, if you talk about a guy like Walker not being able to finish his start because of ailments, that’s certainly worrying.”
Before his early exit, the right-hander had shown flashes of his old self during parts of Friday’s game but was still struggling to limit the damage as his ERA rose to 4.02.
The Giants hit two runs in the second round after Joc Pederson hit a full-count fastball for a leadoff single, Evan Longoria pocketed an RBI double on third base, and Brandon Crawford hit a curveball for an RBI -Single had hammered and turned what had been an early one-run lead for the Dodgers to a 2-1 deficit.
The third inning was one of Buehler’s best of the season. He hit his spots with his fastball, got swings-and-miss with his breaking pitches, and hit all three batters he faced.
However, it was also in the inning that his elbow problems surfaced.
“I threw a breaking ball in the third inning and it grabbed a little bit and kind of didn’t go away,” Buehler said.
Returning to the dugout, he alerted Roberts and the practice staff, but wanted to try to keep pitching. He started the fourth with a strikeout but then gave up a solo home run to Darin Ruf on a slider that stayed over the inside half of the plate. Later in the inning, Buehler exchanged words with plate umpire Chris Conroy after disagreeing with a ball call, prompting pitching coach Mark Prior to calm Buehler down.
Buehler finished the inning a few pitches later but didn’t return to the mound.
“Just talking to the coaches, talking to Mark, [we were] feeling like that was enough,” Roberts said, adding, “Certain ailments that you can manage. With this one tonight, he clearly felt that more could be potentially harmful.”
The Giants quickly outpaced Buehler’s backup, left-hander Justin Brühl, in the fifth. They scored three runs in the inning to extend their lead to 6-2, including two with a single from former Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson after the team decided to deliberately run the batter in front of them to attempt a lefty -On set up – left-handed matchup.
The Dodgers’ offense, opening the goal for Chris Taylor’s RBI double in the second and hitting a solo home run from Gavin Lux in the fifth, couldn’t muster anything else for the rest of the night, even after Giants starter Jakob Janis left the game in the sixth with a thigh strain.
Ruf hit another home run in the eighth inning to end the game. But by then, all attention was focused on the development of Buehler’s status.
Buehler said the elbow problem wasn’t to blame for previous struggles this season. Also on Friday there were no discernible signs of trouble until his early departure.
But now all he and the Dodgers can do is wait to determine how serious the injury is.
“I had Tommy John surgery I think [the concern is] slightly elevated,” Buehler said, before adding, “But before we jump into that, we need to know what we’re dealing with. … I don’t really have much to say in terms of specifics just because I don’t know what’s going on yet.”
Ahead of Friday’s game, Roberts announced the team’s new rotation for the remainder of the weekend, with Clayton Kershaw now set to play on Saturday and Julio Urías on Sunday.
Originally, these two were reversed. But Roberts said Kershaw felt ready to field on Saturday, which will be six days away from his minor league rehab start last Sunday, and that the team felt Urías would benefit from an extra day of rest.
Craig Kimbrel back
Closer Craig Kimbrel returned to the Dodgers on Friday after missing Chicago’s series of the week following the birth of his second child, Joseph Watson.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-06-10/walker-buehler-leaves-early-elbow-discomfort-dodgers-fall-to-giants Walker Buehler (elbow) leaves early as Dodgers fall to Giants