The Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation has been hit hard with injuries this season, as they have been forced to dip into the farm system for pitchers like top prospects Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone to solidify their rotation.
With Julio Urias and Dustin May each going on the IL, the Dodgers are trying to piece everything together right now, but have still found a way to remain atop the NL West. As we look ahead to October, getting Urias and May back will be key to the Dodgers making a long playoff run, but there is one wild card that could mean even more: right-hander Walker Buehler.
Last August, Buehler underwent Tommy John surgery, with many speculating that the injury would sideline him through the end of the 2023 season. Now nine months removed from having the surgery, Buehler has a return date in mind, and one that he admits is rather ambitious.
Recently we have had the pleasure of Buehler joining the Just Baseball Show, making weekly appearances every Sunday for the Monday show. Buehler has given great insight, breaking down different at-bats and matchups we are seeing in the game today, while he has also given updates on his progress rehabbing from the injury.
When asked this week about the return date of September 1st that had been floated, Buehler spoke about his desire to get back on the mound. “Missing 140 games sucks, and I don’t like it. I want to be back…I want to wear the uniform.”
Returning on September 1st would have Buehler back a little over 12 months after the surgery, which would be a very quick turnaround coming off of his second Tommy John (he underwent his first surgery shortly after getting drafted 24th overall back in 2015).
It took Buehler about a year-and-a-half to return after his first Tommy John, so there is a chance he will in fact miss the remainder of this season, but that is not stopping him from pushing to get back on the mound sooner.
Buehler said his first bullpen is tentatively scheduled for June 20th, as he will then begin the process of ramping up to be ready to get back on a big league mound.
Setting a return date of September 1st is not some hard deadline for Buehler, though. Instead, it represents a goal that a high-level athlete is looking to meet. If he doesn’t, Buehler says it will be “no sweat off my back.”
Only time will tell how Buehler’s arm responds once he gets back to pitching on a consistent basis, but for Dodgers fans who dreamt of their ace returning for the postseason, that is something you can’t rule out just yet.