Walker Buehler injury: Dodgers ace to be out for six to eight weeks with ligament strain in his elbow

Walker Buehler injury: Dodgers ace to be out for six to eight weeks with ligament strain in his elbow

The Los Angeles Dodgers lost twice Friday night. They were outscored by rival San Francisco Giants in their first 7-2 loss at Oracle Park (box score), and they also lost right-handed ace Walker Buehler to an elbow injury. Buehler was out after four innings and 70 pitches with what the Dodgers initially called discomfort in his right elbow. On Saturday, Buehler landed on the injured list and underwent tests to determine the exact nature of his injury. According to director Dave Roberts, Buehler was diagnosed with ligament strain in his elbow and will be closed for six to eight weeks. Once he is able to resume throwing, he must then return to play prep. The team expects him to throw again this season, but in Roberts’ words, it “is going to take one moment”. Do the math, and it could be September before Buehler is ready to join the rotation, and that barring any setbacks.

“I had Tommy John surgery, so I think [the level of concern] is a bit heightened,” Buehler told MLB.com on Friday. “It is what it is. It happens in this game. A lot of guys in this clubhouse have dealt with stuff with their elbows. It’s part of this game. I have full confidence in our medical staff and so on. But before we dive into that, we need to know what we’re dealing with.”

Buehler, 27, had Tommy John surgery shortly after being drafted in 2015. He hasn’t had any significant elbow issues since, with his various stints on the MLB injured list following a broken rib and blisters. Buehler allowed three runs in four innings Friday and is having a season well below his usual standards: 4.02 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP and 8.0 K/9 are all the worst of his career.

Walker Buhler

PS •






The discomfort came after throwing a break ball in the third inning, Buehler said. He finished the inning and also pitched the fourth inning, but his elbow didn’t feel better, so he was taken out of the game. Buehler admitted that he suffered from mild elbow discomfort over the years, but it was always manageable. This injury, however, appears to be worse than his previous elbow pain.

As reported by Baseball Prospectus earlier this week, Buehler’s fastball hasn’t been quite right this season. His fastball has been truly elite ground throughout his career, although the rotation and movement on the pitch hasn’t been the same this year, and as a result opponents are punishing Buehler’s warmer. Here are Buehler’s four-seam fastball numbers over the past few seasons:


96.5 mph

2,456 rpm





96.8 mph

2,546 rpm





95.3 mph

2,472 rpm





95.2 mph

2,267 rpm




MLB Averages

93.9 mph

2260 rpm




Buehler’s fastball spin rate decreased following the foreign substance crackdown last year (2,611 rpm before and 2,349 rpm after) and the throw hasn’t been as effective since. It is unclear if this new elbow problem is related. Bottom line, Buehler and his fastball haven’t been good all season, and now he has a significant injury.

“Some discomfort you can handle, where this one tonight, he clearly felt any other could potentially be damaging,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told MLB.com. “I think it’s more – you definitely have to default to a player with Walker’s intelligence and knowing his body.”

Los Angeles welcomed Clayton Kershaw to the rotation on Saturday, and he allowed two runs in four innings in a 3-2 loss to the Giants. He missed about a month with a hip problem. The Dodgers are also expected to pick up Andrew Heaney soon. Heaney made two great starts to start the season before going down with a shoulder problem. Losing Buehler for such a long time is a blow, no doubt, but the return of Kershaw and Heaney should help.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *