Ever since Walker Buehler started pumping 95-99 mph fastballs in spring training, there was the possibility the 2015 first-round pick could end up pitching out of the Dodgers’ bullpen this season. That happened Tuesday when the Dodgers called up their top prospect at midseason.
One of the top pitching prospects in baseball, on his best nights Buehler pitches with three above-average or better pitches. His fastball is a top-of-the-scale monster with good late movement. Pitching out of the bullpen, it could gain even a little more velocity, making triple-digits possible. His slider and curveball both are potentially plus offerings, but pitching out of the pen, he might lean heavier on his slider as he’ll likely not be working long-enough outings to need his full arsenal. He also has a changeup that is an average offering and could be useful against lefthanded hitters.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Buehler’s toughest task right now is to get enough innings to prove himself in a crowded Dodgers bullpen. With Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Brandon Morrow, Luis Avilan and Ross Stripling well-entrenched and Tony Watson, Tony Cingrani and Josh Fields making cases for postseason roster inclusion, Buehler is going to have to wow the Dodgers’ front office to earn a spot on the October roster.
For fantasy purposes, Buehler’s not likely to get enough innings to make a significant impact in strikeouts, ERA or WHIP and he’s unlikely to snag many wins or saves. But as a long-term acquisition, he’s one of the best pickups of the season, as he’s a future starter on the deepest team in baseball. In 2018 and going forward he has a chance to be an excellent starter, racking up wins and strikeouts.