Dodgers ace Walker Buehler is back! … Well, not really. But on Wednesday in Arizona, he made his first steps toward returning to the mound.
Buehler underwent Tommy John surgery last August, sidelining him for the remainder of the 2022 season. Six-plus months later, the two-time All-Star threw a baseball for the first time. Walker posted the event on his Instagram (click the image or the link to watch).
As the hurler notes, this is only day one of many days ahead in his continued recovery from reconstructive surgery on his right elbow. The usual recovery timeline for pitchers is about 12-15 months. For Buehler, considering this is his second time undergoing the operation — the last time was soon after he was drafted by the Dodgers in 2015 — that timeline could stretch out a bit longer.
When Will Walker Buehler Return?
In a best-case scenario, Buehler could see some game action in relief in September. The pitcher has said multiple times since undergoing the knife that his hope is to return in time for the 2023 postseason. However, the Dodgers medical staff will have something to say about that if it seems rushed.
He last pitched on June 10, 2022, exiting a start early in San Francisco after complaining about tightness in his right forearm. Buehler took the rest and rehab approach hoping to return after a few weeks but ultimately had to undergo the operation for the second time in his life.
Over six years at the big league level with Los Angeles, Buehler owns a 46-16 win/loss record with a 3.02 ERA over 638.1 innings. He’s struck out 690 batters while walking 162.
Big Game Buehler
Some of Walker Buehler’s best moments as a professional have come in some of the Dodgers’ biggest games. Perhaps his most famous moment in blue came in a game 163 start against the Colorado Rockies in 2018. The then 23-year-old tossed 6.2 shutout innings against the Rockies at Dodger Stadium, helping LA secure another NL West division crown.
His other biggest moments have come on the biggest stage in baseball. Buehler owns a 2.94 career ERA in the postseason. He burst onto the scene with a dominant start against the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 World Series. Walker also allowed just 5 earned runs over 25 innings in LA’s World Series title run in 2020.
If the right-hander can return in 2023, it would be a massive boost for Dave Roberts and the Dodgers, even if only in a relief role. The club plans on entering the season without a set closer, which could be an intriguing landing spot in October.