Amidst a season that has become somewhat of a roller coaster ride for the Dodgers already, rookie Walker Buehler, who may be on the fast-track to becoming his team’s new ace, is set to make his first-career start at Coors Field on Saturday afternoon.
Buehler is no stranger to the Rockies or Coors Field. Earlier this season, he took the hard-luck loss on May 21 at Dodger Stadium despite allowing just one earned run on only two hits, one of which was a home run off the bat of Gerardo Parra in the fifth inning. Los Angeles ended up losing 2-1 after the offense was slumbering, aside from two Matt Kemp hits and a solo home run by Max Muncy.
In his major league debut last year, Buehler threw in relief against the Rox at home, registering two scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and striking out two batters. Three days later, those same Rockies roughed him up badly as he was able to record just one out in the eighth inning after surrendering four earned runs on two walks and two hits, one of which was a three-run blast to center field off the bat of Mark Reynolds.
A few weeks later, Buehler made his Coors Field debut on September 29, relieving a battered Hyun-Jin Ryu in the third inning. Buehler ended up throwing two frames which were typical to the Coors Field’s reputation, as he gave up two runs on another two walks and two hits, highlighted by a two-run homer of the bat of shortstop Trevor Story.
Two days later on October 1, Buehler appeared again in Colorado, this time throwing a scoreless eighth inning to preserve the win and the second save of the season for righty Josh Fields.
So, even though he has only 15 big league appearances under his belt, five have come against the Rockies in some shape or form. Bundling everything together, he has a career 0-0 record with a 5.11 ERA against Colorado, having surrendered seven earned runs on eight hits and five walks while striking out 12 over 12-1/3 innings of work.
With the news that teammate Clayton Kershaw will be on the shelf for “at least another month” with a lower-back strain, Buehler is once again in the spotlight after he and Ross Stripling have seemingly been carrying the entire rotation on their shoulders over the past month. For the season, Buehler has now made seven starts, tallying a total of 41 innings with an ERA of 2.20 and 48 punchouts. While many fans are reminded almost daily that the youngster is on some type of unspecified innings limit, the Dodgers need to be careful regarding when they will enforce his hiatus, especially now that 4/5 of the club’s original starting five—Kersh, Ryu, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda—are all on the disabled list with injuries. At the same time, the most logical strategy is to ensure the youngster in frsh should Los Angeles be in a position to contend for a playoff spot during the stretch run of the season.
In the meantime, the Rockies will counter with right-hander German Marquez in Saturday’s contest. Marquez has made 11 starts this year, posting a 4-5 record with a 4.45 ERA over 57-2/3 innings of work. Coincidentally, on May 21, Marquez started and earned the win in the 2-1 game which Buehler was credited with the loss.
First pitch is slated for 4:15 p.m. Los Angeles time.