With the Dodgers trying to decide who will constitute the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen in the playoffs, one baby-faced candidate joined the team on Wednesday. The team promoted 23-year-old Walker Buehler, a first-round pick in 2015, and plan to audition him for a playoff roster spot.
Manager Dave Roberts indicated he would ease Buehler into major league action, hoping to allow the right-hander to debut in a low-leverage situation.
Buehler’s prominence could increase if he performs. Buehler started the season with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and rose quickly.
“It’s funny, in talking to him, he’s very mindful of not trying to be too arrogant, but there’s a confidence, a swagger about him,” Roberts said before Wednesday’s series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks. “The stuff really plays, and he’s had a lot of success. He’s here because he’s earned it.”
Buehler underwent elbow ligament replacement surgery after the Dodgers drafted him and did not make his professional debut until last summer. The Dodgers shifted him into a relief role this August. In nine outings out of the bullpen for triple-A Oklahoma City, Buehler posted a 4.73 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings.
Buehler admitted he needed time to adjust mentally, having spent most of his life as a starting pitcher. He learned he could not always ease into relief appearances. He credited Oklahoma City pitching coach Matt Herges and veteran catcher Bobby Wilson for helping him adjust. He also picked the brain of utility man Rob Segedin to learn from the hitter’s perspective.
Buehler indicated he had not given much thought to how he might fit into the team’s October picture.
“I’m not worried about the playoff roster, man, to be honest with you,” Buehler said. “I’m so ecstatic to be here, and be a part of this team that’s the best team in baseball.”
Morrow gets a break
Morrow indicated he felt healthy enough to pitch Wednesday, but Roberts said the team would prefer not to use him.
Corey Seager threw to bases Wednesday for the first time since getting shut down with elbow inflammation last week. He expected to rejoin the starting lineup Friday. . . . To make room for Buehler on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated pitcher Fabio Castillo for assignment. Castillo posted a 13.50 ERA in two relief appearances for the team last weekend in San Diego.
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