Saturday, October 24, 2020

Walker Buehler, Postseason Stud

As if I could get any more hyped for last night's World Series Game 3 start by Walker Buehler, the LAT's Jack Harris had an excellent piece yesterday which focused on how failure (both in college at Vanderbilt, and professionally with the Dodgers), and how it made him a calmer and more zen pitcher:

Yet, as this postseason has progressed, with Buehler improving every start, the 26-year-old has referred back to those painful memories: the grand slam he gave up in Game 3 of the 2018 NLDS in Atlanta; his stumbles during three straight NCAA tournament runs at Vanderbilt; the highs and lows of skins games that felt far more important than routine practice drills.

Each low point was a prerequisite to his career’s current heights, dark days that better equipped him for a bright future.

“I failed in those moments,” Buehler said. “I can handle that failure. I’ve been through it and I’ve been good after it. That failure doesn’t really scare me anymore. Obviously, you don’t want to fail. But there’s a different feeling when you’re not scared of that failure.”

Buehler wasn't scared of failure last night, nor was he scared of starting in a pivotal game which the Dodgers needed to win both to restore momentum and get their confidence back after a close 6-4 loss on Wednesday. With Charlie Morton and his impressive, cheating-enhanced postseason resume on the opponent's hill. Buehler not only out-dueled and out-lasted the salty Morton. Buehler also notched 10Ks in only six innings, he became the first World Series pitcher to have 10 strikeouts in six innings or fewer.

Eight of those ten strikeouts were swinging, so though Austin Barnes' framing skills might have helped a little, most of it was just flummoxing Tampa Bay, plain and simple, swing and miss. And watching Buehler carve up the Rays in the opening frames (with two Ks per inning through the first three innings), it certinly did a lot to calm the nerves of the Dodgers (who by then had taken a 4-0 lead off a Justin Turner home run, a two-RBI Max Muncy single, and a Barnes suicide squeeze). Not to mention my nerves, but that's another story.

Look at some of the nastiness unveiled in Buehler's arsenal yesterday:

And through this, it's helpful to remember back to the early 2010s, when Clayton Kershaw was paired with Tiny Head Zack Greinke, and everyone thought that one-two punch would take us to World Series championships. It never even got us to the World Series. And here we are, with Walker Buehler's emergence, and Kershaw finally has another stallion in the stable who can effectively help shoulder the postseason load.

Dodgers take a 2-1 lead on the back of their other postseason stud, Walker Buehler.


karen said...

Buehler in a word...Wicked.