Dodgers Dugout: Walker Buehler no longer in plans this season

Walker Buehler last season.
(Alex Gallardo / AP)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell. There are only 23 games remaining in the regular season.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Dodgers’ probable postseason rotation looked pretty solid. Four pitchers who could keep the opponent contained, allowing the team’s high-powered offense to take over.

Today, that rotation doesn’t look solid at all. It looks more like melting ice cream.

Let’s take a look.

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Clayton Kershaw: Whatever is wrong with his shoulder, it’s hurting his velocity. He didn’t throw a pitch faster than 90 mph in his most recent start. He says he feels fine, but Dave Roberts disagrees, saying “It’s not ideal for him. But we’re going to make the most of it.... The hope is he’s going to continue to feel better. But given where he’s at physically, it’s hard to say that’s going to happen.”

That doesn’t fill you with confidence for the postseason. To Kershaw’s credit, he is still pitching well despite the mysterious injury. But right now it feels as if every pitch could be his last.

Julio Urías: He was put on administrative leave Wednesday and has probably thrown his last pitch as a Dodger.


Lance Lynn: In his first four starts with the Dodgers, he went 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA (though his FIP was a more troubling 3.94). It appeared the Dodgers had once again worked their magic with a struggling pitcher. In his last three starts, he is 1-2 with a 10.80 ERA (his FIP is an even worse 11.19. Click here for an explanation of FIP).

Bobby Miller: A bright spot. He got the only win in the four games against the Braves. Since the start of August, he is 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA. And really, he’s not even supposed to be in the majors right now. Injuries forced the Dodgers’ hand, so what he has done this season (9-3, 3.80 ERA) is remarkable.

So, the Dodgers’ postseason rotation right now looks like:


Who’s the fourth starter? You could probably get away with three starters in the NLDS. Here’s the schedule:

Game 1: Saturday, Oct. 7
Game 2: Monday, Oct. 9
Game 3: Wednesday, Oct. 11
Game 4: Thursday, Oct. 12
Game 5: Saturday, Oct. 14

You could come back with your Game 1 starter in Game 4 and your Game 2 starter in Game 5, and those two starters would be, at the moment, Kershaw and Miller. And you could just hope that Lynn pitches decently in Game 3.

But, if the Dodgers advance to the NLCS, they will need that fourth starter. The candidates:

Ryan Pepiot. He has pitched solidly in his return from an injury. He had a perfect game through six innings Thursday and ended up giving up only one hit in seven innings, striking out three. He has given up two runs in 21 innings this season. In his major league career, he has a 2.51 ERA in 57.1 innings. If the postseason started today, he deserves the third spot over Lynn. But would the Dodgers do that? If he keeps pitching like this, you have to think they will.


Emmett Sheehan. He has pitched only twice for the Dodgers since Aug. 1, so it seems unlikely he would be the fourth starter. However, he starts today against Washington and if he pitches well, he could enter the conversation.

Gavin Stone. He has a 10.80 ERA in five games this season and isn’t on the 28-man roster, so this seems unlikely.

Michael Grove. He is expected to come off the IL during the next homestand, but Roberts said they view him as a reliever going forward this season. So, no.

Ryan Yarbrough: He has pitched well with the Dodgers (3-1, 2.82 ERA), but has been used exclusively in relief, though he usually pitches 3-4 innings in relief. He made seven starts with Kansas City before the Dodgers acquired him. It’s conceivable he could get a start and go 4-5 innings.

When this newsletter was originally published Friday morning, we speculated on the possible return of Walker Buehler. After all,

he looked good in his two-inning stint with Oklahoma City on Sunday. “Walker’s outing went really well,” Roberts said earlier this week. “The plan is for him to start on Friday and do another two innings. What happened [with Julio] has no bearing on his progression.”


But all that changed when the Dodgers announced on Friday that Buehler will not finish his recovery from Tommy John surgery to be able to compete this season. The plan is have Buehler ready for the start of the 2024 season.

Let’s keep in mind that having a shaky rotation does not mean doom in the postseason. I mean, the Dodgers had Kershaw and Zack Greinke in their prime for three seasons and didn’t win the World Series. Of course, their offense wasn’t as good back then. The point being, no one thing ahead of time guarantees or excludes you from being a champion.

A handful of readers emailed after Wednesday’s loss to the Marlins that the Dodgers were a terrible team and obviously had no shot to win the World Series. Ludicrous. There are many World Series champions that few thought would win. It’s the nature of the game. I don’t know if the Dodgers will win the World Series. Neither does anyone else. So, just enjoy the ride.

Another thing to watch

Mookie Betts fouled a pitch off his left foot in the first inning Thursday. He played most of the rest of the game, and X-rays were negative, but he left the stadium on crutches. He will be reevaluated today.

The 25 greatest Dodgers of all time

The 25 greatest Dodgers, No. 17: WALTER O’MALLEY (244 first-place votes, 10,804 points)
2018 rank: 16th

Some quotes from and about Walter O’Malley:

Marvin Miller in 1997: “At the time I began as executive director of the Players Association in 1966, Walter O’Malley was really running the game. His fellow owners relied on him in terms of direction and major policy decisions to an extent you wouldn’t believe until you looked into it. There’s no question that whatever O’Malley wanted, [Commissioner Bowie] Kuhn did it. First, he was brighter than most of them, if not all of them. Secondly, when I asked an owner why [he had] that great influence, he said, ‘The owners come to a meeting and they typically don’t even know what’s on the agenda. They just don’t even pay attention to it, or any of the literature that was sent them. In contrast, O’Malley comes not only knowing what’s on the agenda, but prepared to speak on every point.’ Even O’Malley came around, before he died, in a surprisingly warm fashion. There was no time in the last years before his death when I went to Vero Beach in spring training that he didn’t send somebody out to me to ask, ‘Have you forgotten to visit me?’”


Former L.A. mayor Norris Poulson in 1979: “Walter O’Malley helped to bring Los Angeles from minor league to the top of the big league in every way. Other teams tried to come here but we weren’t interested. We always wanted the tops and the Dodgers fulfilled that. They proved a great benefit for the city financially and spiritually.”

Roy Campanella in 1979: “A lot of people didn’t know the man for what he was. He stood by me every minute after my accident, helping me to see my way through. No one knows that after that wonderful night he had for me in the Coliseum when 93,000 showed up, he gave me a check for $50,000. And he continued my salary, which was more than $50,000 a year, for years after that.”

Sandy Koufax in 1979: “I remember early in my career when I wasn’t doing too well. I pitched a ballgame and I pitched fairly well, but got beat anyway. A day later, I received a telegram from Mr. O’Malley saying, ‘Don’t worry about that. Things will get better.’ And I guess they did. ... There was nothing about him that was not sort of exceptional. Some people liked him and some people didn’t, but I don’t think anybody felt nothing at all.”

Former Dodgers GM Buzzie Bavasi in 1979: “I, like so many others in baseball, will be forever grateful to Walter O’Malley for giving us the opportunity to prove we could do a job in the major leagues. As a boss, O’Malley never interfered with the organization. When he gave a man a job, he never looked over his shoulder.”

Former Dodgers team doctor Pascal Imperato in 1989: “Walter O’Malley was a large man who had a quick step and a slight bounce to his walk, a warm smile, and a pleasant habit of mischievously peering out over the top of his spectacles. The wooden Dodgertown barracks where we worked creaked and echoed; yet his approach was almost always silent. What told us he was coming was the distinctive push he gave to the Hollywood-style saloon doors that set the Infirmary off from the rest of the corridor. ‘Good Morning,’ he would say, standing in the doorway, not stepping in until he was invited.

“He had a booming voice, an infectious smile, and quickly put us at ease. As he stepped over the threshold he always removed his brown straw hat that seemed so much a natural part of his anatomy. He asked us how everything was, inquired about the sick and injured, and amused us by offering therapeutic advice after listening to case histories. We saw him as a man of unique admirable qualities who inspired loyalty, respect, and affection. Yet the public he had left behind in Brooklyn saw him from afar through their disappointment and anger.”


Vin Scully in 2000: “I think if you want to know and understand someone, look at when he is happiest. And for me, I always felt that Walter O’Malley was happiest not wheeling and dealing, not sitting behind a big desk, not smoking a cigar, which he loved, but you would find him in Vero Beach.

“He’d have a khaki shirt and a khaki pair of pants and a broad hat to protect him from the sun. And early in the morning, he would be out there digging in the soil. He loved the earth. He was an orchid grower, if you will, both on the east coast and in the west coast. He loved the earth.

“And his idea of a great day would be to get up very early and tend to some flowers and things like that; play some golf – he would always use his own rules. He had hurricane rules where you could tee the ball up in the bunker. He had all kinds of rules. But, that was his fun. Then, have a steak dinner with a drink. And then, play poker with the writers and whatever. That was his ideal day. He was a very gregarious, happy, loving man. He was everybody’s uncle. He was just a wonderful human being and like a second father to me. And maybe the great tribute to him was how well he brought up his daughter and his son. And Peter, of course, took over the reins of the father and did a remarkable job. So, you said it; it was a great family. And it’s different now, I mean it’s a corporate family and we’re trying very hard to be close and intimate, but I don’t know if it will ever be quite like the way it was.”

Up next

Friday: Dodgers (Emmett Sheehan, 3-1, 5.31 ERA) at Washington (*Mackenzie Gore, 7-10, 4.28 ERA), 4 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Saturday: Dodgers (Bobby Miller, 9-3, 3.80 ERA) at Washington (TBD), 1 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Sunday: Dodgers (TBD) at Washington (TBD), 10:35 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020


In case you missed it

Dodgers’ Julio Urías placed on administrative leave after arrest


Witness alerted park police about altercation that led to Julio Urías’ arrest

Q&A: Here’s what comes next for Julio Urías and the Dodgers after his arrest

Julio Urías’ uncertain status leaves Dodgers’ pitching plans in limbo

Shaikin: As cable TV dies, fans struggle to follow favorite teams, and not just the Dodgers

And finally

Tommy Lasorda tells the funniest joke he ever heard. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.