Buehler finished last season as a reliever after earning a September callup, though the Dodgers have always viewed the talented righty as a starter in the long term. While he struggled during his brief stint with the big club, posting a 7.71 ERA, 2.04 WHIP and 12:8 K:BB in 9.1 innings, the 23-year-old compiled a more respectable 3.35 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 125:31 K:BB through 88.2 innings across three levels of the minors prior to his promotion. He misses bats at an impressive clip and has front-of-the-rotation stuff, headlined by a plus curveball and a fastball that can serve as another reliable offering. The Dodgers have starters to burn, however, so Buehler will likely be competing for a back-end rotation spot in spring training.
Buehler had his contract purchased from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
Buehler, one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, will join the Dodgers after starting the season with High-A Rancho Cucamonga and working his way up to Triple-A by July. He compiled a 3.35 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 125:31 K:BB through 88.2 innings across all three levels of the minors. While the Dodgers view him as a starting pitcher in the long term, he's expected to pitch out of the bullpen down the stretch.
Buehler will be recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
He is one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, and reached Triple-A after starting the year at High-A. Buehler has a 3.35 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 125:31 K:BB in 88.2 innings across three levels. Unfortunately, it seems he is poised to occupy a bullpen role in his big-league debut, as his last nine appearances have come out of the Oklahoma City bullpen. He could be dominant in such a role, thanks to a plus-plus curveball and a fastball which serves as another 70-grade offering, especially in short bursts.
Buehler has been pitching out of the bullpen in his previous two outings and could finish the year as a reliever, Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register reports.
The 2015 first-round pick has pitched well since returning from Tommy John surgery (3.32 ERA and 12.5 K/9 across three levels in the minors this season), but the Dodgers want to limit his workload by pitching him out of the 'pen. General manager Andrew Friedman acknowledged the workload limitations, but he also mentioned that the club is "getting a chance to see [Buehler] in that role to the extent that it potentially makes sense to bring him up in September." It doesn't sound like the conversion is a permanent one, but a move from a starter to a reliever would certainly hurt Buehler's dynasty appeal, especially in an organization that has a dominant closer like Kenley Jansen who effectively blocks any reliever from getting fantasy-relevant save opportunities for years to come.
Buehler failed to record an out while giving up four runs on two hits and three walks on 29 pitches in Thursday's debut for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The moment got the best of the Dodgers' top prospect. "I just didn't make pitches, man," Buehler said. "I felt like I could have and just didn't," he told Jacob Unruh of NewsOK.com. Fortunately, even though Buehler failed to record an out in his highly-anticipated Triple-A debut, it was just due to poor execution and not an injury. Even after this ugly outing, Buehler still boasts a 3.44 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 91:23 K:BB in 65.1 innings across High-A, Double-A and Triple-A this season. He will remain in the rotation at Oklahoma City for now, but could earn a promotion to join either the big-league rotation or bullpen if he can right the ship against Pacific Coast League hitters.
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