Dodgers pitcher Buehler won't return this season

By Sports Desk September 08, 2023

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced Friday that pitcher Walker Buehler will not return this season, thereby ending the two-time All-Star's attempt to come back from Tommy John surgery and help the team's beleaguered rotation for the playoff chase.

Buehler, who underwent the second Tommy John procedure of his career in August 2022, was seemingly on track to rejoin the Dodgers later this month. The right-hander threw two perfect innings Sunday in a rehab start for the team's Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City and was scheduled to pitch again Friday.

The 29-year-old is expected to be fully recovered in time for the start of the 2024 season. 

"My goal since last year has been to return to a major league mound this season," Buehler said in a statement issued by the Dodgers. "After many conversations with my doctor, the Dodgers' front office, training staff and my family, we concluded that waiting until next season is the right course of action.

"I am disappointed that I will not be able to help this team go after a title in the 2023 postseason, but I look forward to returning fully healthy in 2024 and bringing another World Series to L.A."

The news of Buehler's shutdown brings further uncertainty to a Dodgers rotation that became further thinned when former 20-game winner Juio Urias was placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball on Wednesday. Two other starters, 2022 All-Star Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May, underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this season.

Urias was arrested Sunday on a felony charge of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant. The alleged incident occurred at BMO Stadium in Exposition Park, home of Major League Soccer team Los Angeles FC, during a game between LAFC and Lionel Messi's Inter Miami side.

Buehler, who went 16-4 and finished third in the majors with a 2.47 earned run average in 2021, has not pitched in the majors since June 10, 2022. He also played a key role on the Dodgers' 2020 World Series champion team by compiling a 2-0 record and a 1.80 ERA in five starts that postseason.

The Dodgers hold a commanding 13-game lead atop the National League West division, but are currently using a rotation with rookies Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot and Emmet Sheehan slotted in behind three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and veteran Lance Lynn.

Pepiot took a perfect game into the seventh inning of Thursday's start against the Miami Marlins and has thrown 12 scoreless innings over his last two outings. Miller also has pitched well down the stretch, having posted a 3-1 record and a 2.87 ERA over his last five starts. 

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