The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Walker Buehler has six wins — tied with a big group for second most in the majors — but he probably has been feeling anything but triumphant of late as he gets set to return to the mound Saturday against the New York Mets.
Buehler (6-1, 3.22 ERA) is having another fine season at first glance, but things can be deceiving, much like the right-hander’s fastball/breaking ball mix. That combination, though, has not been up to Buehler’s standards.
During his most recent outing Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Buehler returned to the dugout at one point and flung his glove at the bat rack in disgust. He gave up a season-high two home runs and even though the offense rallied to leave him with a no-decision, the Dodgers fell 6-5 in the first loss of what would be a three-game sweep by Pittsburgh.
The Dodges are hoping a slight mechanical tweak can get Buehler’s command back in order and turn him back into the dominating staff ace the club was expecting.
“I think it’s a blessing because he expects so much from himself,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Buehler’s tendency to show emotion when his performances fail to meet his high standards. “When it’s not going well, the way he thinks it should, there is a lot of frustration in there. But he can adjust and we’re confident that he will.”
The Dodgers are still 7-3 in Buehler’s starts so there is no sense of panic that he has yet to hit his stride. He did have seven strikeouts Monday, his most in an outing since his first career complete-game shutout April 25 at Arizona when he struck out 10.
In four career starts against the Mets, Buehler is 1-0 with a 3.65 ERA, but he has his issues with New York’s Pete Alonso, giving up three home runs in 12 at-bats.
The Mets will counter with left-hander David Peterson (2-0, 3.03), who had the worst of his six season appearances Monday against the Washington Nationals. Peterson gave up four runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings, with four walks and one strikeout.
The Mets’ first-round draft pick in 2017 (20th overall), Peterson is now 31 appearances (29 starts) into his major league career with a 10-8 record and 4.32 ERA but has yet to face the Dodgers.
Despite Peterson’s limited experience, the Mets will lean on him to get their 10-game road trip on track. After a six-game winning streak at home, the Mets have lost the first two games of a four-game series with the Dodgers.
Friday’s 6-1 defeat to the Dodgers meant the Mets have been outscored 8-1 so far in the series. The Dodgers had home runs from Cody Bellinger, Zach McKinstry and Chris Taylor on Friday.
New York’s Francisco Lindor, who missed the series opener with a finger injury, saw his 10-game RBI streak come to an end when he went 0-for-4 in Friday’s game.
“It’s a team that you have to go out there and you have to go battle every single inning,” New York’s Starling Marte said of the Dodgers. “They play the game hard, and that’s what we strive to go do. We have to match that same intensity.”
–Field Level Media