The Los Angeles Dodgers lost twice Friday night. They were outplayed by the rival San Francisco Giants in their series-opening 7-2 loss at Oracle Park (box score), and they also lost ace right-hander Walker Buehler to an elbow injury. Buehler exited after four innings and 70 pitches with what the Dodgers initially called right elbow discomfort. On Saturday, Buehler landed on the injured list and underwent tests to determine the exact nature of his injury. According to manager Dave Roberts, Buehler has been diagnosed with a ligament strain in his elbow and will be shut down for six to eight weeks. After he’s able to resume throwing, he must then ramp back up to game readiness. The team expects him to pitch again this season, but in Roberts’ words it’s “gonna be 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’ve had Tommy John surgery, so I think [the level of concern] is a little bit heightened,” Buehler told MLB.com on Friday. “It is what it is. That happens in this game. A lot of guys in this clubhouse have dealt with stuff with their elbows. It’s part of this game. I have all the faith in our medical staff and whatnot. But before we kind of dive into that, we need to know what we’re dealing with.”
Buehler, 27, had Tommy John surgery soon after being drafted in 2015. He has had no significant elbow trouble since, with his various MLB injured list stints the result of a rib fracture and blisters. Buehler allowed three runs in four innings Friday and is having a season well below is his usual standards: 4.02 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP and 8.0 K/9 are all career worsts.