The Dodgers recently called up their top pitching prospect Walker Buehler . In 3 starts (16 innings), Buehler has only allowed 2 earned runs (1.12 ERA), 19 Ks, and 7 BBs. The Dodgers want to limit his innings since he’s 2 years removed since Tommy John Surgery. They proved it on Friday when they removed him after tossing 6 no hit innings. They also want Buehler to be available for a potential playoff run. Although right now it is a little tough due to the injury of starter Hyun-Jin Ryu. But the Dodgers are still going to limit Buehler’s innings and I looked into a few options on how they can.
Option 1: In and out of the rotation/bullpen
In this method, Buehler would be making spot starts but mainly pitching out of the pen. The Dodgers recently did this with Julio Urías when he came up in 2016. This is not the best method since Buehler will never really be in a consistent routine. Yes you do limit innings but it’ll be better if he had a consistent routine.
Option 2: Move to the pen then to the rotation
Buehler will move out of the rotation and into the pen for the time being. He will later join the rotation when there is no worry of him exeding his inning limit. The problem with this is the transition from starter to reliever to starter again. The transition back to starter could take some time.
Option 3: Modified 6 man rotation
With ace Clayton Kershaw in the rotation, a true 6 man rotation is unlikely to happen. But the Dodgers can modify the rotation. They can have Kershaw be the only pitcher to pitch every 5 days. This is beneficial to the Dodgers because it keeps Kershaw happy, it limits the innings of not only Buehler but every other pitcher not named Kershaw fresh too. The only down side is with an extra men in the rotation, Los Angeles loses an arm in the pen.
Option 4: DL Train
The Dodgers are very good at this. They can always manipulate the roster and put Buehler on the 10 day DL. This is beneficial because he is only skipping one start and the Dodgers can have an extra reliever for the time being.
Option 5: Minors
If the Dodgers have everyone healthy in the rotation. They can always option Buehler to Triple-A. It would be easier to manage his inning there in a controlled environment. It is also easier to manage Buehler in an environment where the main focus is to develop players.
There is not really a “correct” way to limit innings. It can change year in year out.But let’s hope that Buehler can pitch as much as possible this year.