According to multiple reports coming from spring camp on Sunday afternoon, the Dodgers expect two of their most valuable pitchers—Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler—to be ready for the beginning of the season.
Seemingly, there was never much concern about Buehler, despite the righty still not having made an official Cactus League appearance. Management has decided to handle him lightly so far in camp in a cautionary effort after his high workload in 2018.
On Saturday, Buehler finally pitched to live hitters on the back fields. He threw a total of 21 pitches against two different batters—newly acquired utility man Brad Miller and minor league middle infielder Omar Estevez.
“It was a good day for us, a good day for Walker,” manager Dave Roberts said about Buehler’s performance. “Just the swings the guys were taking, talking to the catcher, Russell Martin, talking to the hitters, the ball was coming out well. And so I talked with Walker after and he felt really good about it. So I’m encouraged.”
As far as Buehler himself is concerned, there were never any questions surrounding his readiness to begin the season.
“I’m confident I’ll be ready to go,” Buehler stated last week. “The way that I throw the ball, I feel that I can get going pretty quick, and once I get into games is all relative at some point. I felt good. The velocity is fine. I’m right where I need to be.”
Yet, while there are not many worries about Buehler, it’s a different story for Kershaw.
Last week, the signals all but indicated that time was running out for the lefty ace; but now, Roberts is saying that there’s still a chance for Kersh to make his ninth consecutive Opening Day start.
“Nothing is official,” Roberts said on Saturday. “Right now, he’s feeling pretty good. The mood meter is trending up.”
There are exactly 18 days remaining before the 2019 regular season begins, and Kershaw, after sustaining inflammation in his throwing shoulder early in camp, has yet to throw off a mound. However, according to Ken Gurnick, the three-time Cy Young Award winner fired fastballs off flat ground on Saturday as if he’s no longer injured.
The biggest battle CK may be facing right now is time.
Looking ahead to next week, Kershaw is scheduled to throw another bullpen on Monday. Buehler is expected to throw to live hitters again on Tuesday or Wednesday.
In the meantime, Julio Urias, who many believe will begin his 2019 campaign at Triple-A Oklahoma City, will start for the Dodgers in Sunday’s Cactus League contest against the Rockies.
It will be Urias’ third official start of the spring.
First pitch is set for 1:10 PM Pacific time.