Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler underwent Tommy John surgery today, according to a post on Buehler’s Instagram account. The righthander would seem to be slated to return for the beginning of the 2024 season.
This is a big blow for the Dodgers, as Buehler has been one of their top starting pitchers since 2018, when he threw 137 innings and finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting. Buehler led the majors in regular season starts in 2021, with 33, logging 207.2 IP. Buehler followed that up with four starts, totaling 18.1 IP, in the postseason.
Buehler has only made twelve starts in 2022 due to arm issues, and when he has pitched he hasn’t been as sharp, putting up a 4.02 ERA and a 3.81 FIP. Buehler was seen as a possible top 10 draft pick in 2015 out of Vanderbilt until health concerns resulted in him dropping to the Dodgers at #24. Buehler ended up undergoing Tommy John surgery soon after signing, and didn’t make his pro debut until 2016, when he only pitched five innings at the end of the season while rehabbing.
B-R has Buehler as not being eligible for free agency until after the 2024 season, and has him coming into 2022 with 3 years, 168 days of service time. I am not sure if that 168 days is enough for Buehler to be credited with a full season, or if that is just short of the time necessary. If he is eligible for free agency after 2023, then the Dodgers would seem likely to non-tender him if they cannot work out a multi-year extension, as Buehler will almost certainly spend all of 2023 on the injured list.