Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Walker Buehler injury update: Dodgers ace to undergo season-ending elbow surgery

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The Los Angeles Dodgers announced on Monday that right-hander Walker Buehler will undergo season-ending elbow surgery on Aug. 23. It’s not yet known if Buehler’s availability for 2023 Opening Day will be impacted. 

Buehler has not pitched in the majors since June 10, just days before he underwent an operation to have bone chips removed from his throwing elbow. The National League West-leading Dodgers were hopeful he could return ahead of the stretch run and the 2022 postseason, but that will not be the case.

Buehler, 28 years old, appeared in just 12 games this season, pitching to a 4.02 ERA (103 ERA+) and 58 strikeouts in 65 innings. The two-time All-Star finished fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting last year after accumulating a 2.47 ERA (169 ERA+) and a 4.08 strikeout-to-walk ratio in a career-high 207 innings pitched.

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Buehler’s absence for the rest of the season is a blow to the Dodgers, who are also without left-hander Clayton Kershaw (lower back discomfort) for the time being. Young right-hander Dustin May is nearing his return after undergoing his own elbow surgery in May 2021. 

As it stands, the Dodgers playoff rotation seems likely to feature some combination of Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin, Andrew Heaney, and Tyler Anderson. Of course, much can change over the coming month-plus, and it’s possible that the Dodgers will end up using May or rookie Ryan Pepiot instead if they feel a right-hander matchups up better with their postseason opponents.

The Dodgers entered Monday with a 79-34 record on the season, giving them the top mark in all of Major League Baseball. The Dodgers’ plus-247 run differential is also the best in the sport, with only one other team (the New York Yankees) falling within 100 runs of that output.

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