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

The Los Angeles Dodgers lost twice on Friday night. They were beaten by rivals San Francisco Giants in the series’ opening 7-2 defeat at Oracle Park (score in the box), and also lost right-hander ace Walker Buehler to an elbow injury. Buehler came out after four innings and 70 pitches with what the Dodgers initially called right elbow discomfort. On Saturday, Buehler made it to the injury list and underwent tests to determine the exact nature of his injury. According to manager Dave Roberts, Buehler has been diagnosed with a strained elbow ligament and will be off for six to eight weeks. After he is able to resume throwing, he must then get back to being ready for play. The team expects him to launch again this season, but in Roberts’ words “it will take a while”. Do the math and it could be September before Buehler is ready to rejoin the rotation, and that’s barring any setbacks.

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

Buehler, 27, underwent surgery on Tommy John soon after being drafted in 2015. He has had no significant elbow problems since, with his various bouts of MLB injuries the result of a rib fracture and blisters. Buehler conceded three runs in four innings on Friday and is playing a season well below his usual standards: 4.02 ERA with 1.29 WHIP and 8.0 K / 9 are all the worst in his career.

Walker Buehler

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The discomfort emerged after throwing a ball that breaks in the third inning, Buehler said. He finished the inning and then threw the fourth inning as well, but his elbow wasn’t feeling any better, so he was removed from the game. Buehler acknowledged that he has dealt with mild elbow discomfort over the years, but he has always been manageable. This injury, however, appears to be worse than his previous elbow pain.

As Baseball Prospectus noted earlier this week, Buehler’s fastball wasn’t quite right this season. His fast ball has been a truly elite field throughout his career, although rotation and movement on the pitch are not the same this year and, as a result, opponents are punishing Buehler’s heater. Here are the numbers on Buehler’s four-stitch fastball 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

2,260 rpm




The spin speed of Buehler’s fastball declined following the repression of foreign substances last year (2,611 rpm before and 2,349 rpm after) and the tone hasn’t been as effective since. It is unclear if this new elbow problem is related. In conclusion, Buehler and his fastball have not been doing well all season and now he has a significant injury.

“Some inconvenience you can handle, where this tonight, clearly felt that others could potentially be harmful,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told MLB.com. “I think it’s more: you have by default, of course, a player with Walker’s intelligence and who knows his body.”

Los Angeles welcomed Clayton Kershaw back into the rotation on Saturday, and conceded two runs out of four innings in a 3-2 defeat to the Giants. He missed about a month with a hip problem. The Dodgers are also expected to catch up with Andrew Heaney soon. Heaney made two very good starts at the start of the season before going ashore with a shoulder problem. Losing Buehler for so long is a blow, no doubt, but the return of Kershaw and Heaney should help.

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