Walker Buehler

USA Today

Walker Buehler Is Brass As Bleep

Straight badass.

October 02, 2018 - 10:09 am

If you’ve played 162 games and you need to play another to decide the division, you probably don’t want a rookie on the mound for game 163. Unless you’re the Los Angeles Dodgers and that rookie is Walker Buehler. Because Walker Buehler is brass as bleep.

And no, I’m not interested in your Ferris nicknames. Or your Walker Los Angeles Dodger nicknames. Because Walker is no joke. In the 23rd and biggest start of his major league career, Buehler went huge. Absolutely monstrous. 

Armed with a 99 mph heater and a nasty slider, he carried a no-hitter into the sixth. He gave up one hit and left after 6 2/3 of shutout ball. There’s a clutch performance and then there’s what he did in LA’s 5-2 win that clinched a sixth straight division title. 

And he was going it against a Rockies team that is tough as hell. Absolute nails. Won nine of their last ten heading into yesterday. Went from being dead in the water, to holding the division lead for three days. 

Colorado is tough, Walker Beuhler is tougher. He just dominated a lineup that had been averaging nearly 9 runs per game in his last seven games. He shut them out and drove in a run of his own. This is a guy who had arm troubles, who had Tommy John surgery after just five professional innings and now he’s out there, in the biggest game of the season, dealing like that?

Unreal. But don’t take my word for it. Ask Clayton Kershaw: "I can't say enough good things about him. You just have to say it behind his back so that he doesn't get too big a head. But it's a really special thing to watch him pitch. His talent level is just — I mean, it's unbelievable. Some of the best stuff I've ever witnessed."

That is one of the best to ever do it. A guy with some of the best stuff anyone’s ever witnessed, and he’s saying that Buehler has some of the best stuff he’s ever witnessed. 

But there’s having great stuff and then there’s knowing how to use it. And then being able to use it in a situation like that, with the division on the line, and all the pressure that comes with it. To pull that off, you need, well, Justin Turner can take it from there: "I don't know if I can say this on air, but huge set of balls."

Uh, yes. That’s correct. Buehler does have that. And if you want more proof, check the 1.55 ERA in his last 12 starts. Check the fact that he better yet, the whole Dodgers team has that. Including their manager. 

Remember Dave Roberts said the Dodgers would do this. He called his shot early in the season. And after the game, a reporter reminded Roberts that he’d said the Dodgers would win the division in May. Roberts corrected him: “April 29th.” 

That’s how good Roberts is. Sure, when you have the roster that the Dodgers have, you’re expected to win the division. But he said it when they were below .500 and in the middle of a losing streak. They followed that losing streak up with another streak that took them to 10 games below .500. And yet here they are, division champions. 

Yes, they have a big payroll, but if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it. Instead, the Dodgers are just the sixth team in history to go from ten games below .500 to win the division. And they did it with their closer dealing with a heart issue, their ace dealing with a back issue, and their star shortstop being lost for the season. And they still did it. Because, like Buehler, they have talent and what else do they have, Justin Turner? "I don't know if I can say this on air, but huge set of balls."

Of course, that’s not enough. This team wasn’t built to just win divisions, they want more. They need to get more. It’s been too long since their last World Series title. And if this era ends with zero World Series titles, it will be a major disappointment. But that doesn’t mean you should just take six straight division titles for granted. 

Yeah, this is not a perfect team. They still have questions about the back of the bullpen. And no Dodger fan liked seeing Kenley Jansen give up a pair of homers in the ninth, but this team is good. Really good. They have arms, they have bats, and what else do they have, Justin Turner? "I don't know if I can say this on air, but huge set of balls."

Starting with the rook, who the ball on the big stage and when they absolutely had to have it, showed up like a boss: utterly fearless. Straight badass.