The team announced Monday that the pitcher, who has been out since June with an elbow injury, will undergo season-ending elbow surgery next week.
The procedure will be carried out by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Buehler suffered what the team called a flexor tendon strain in his right elbow during a start against the San Francisco Giants in June.
Buehler was out for six weeks – he also had an unrelated bone spur removed from his elbow during that time – then started a throwing program late last month.
He had hoped to come back in some capacity for the stretch run and the playoffs, targeting a late September comeback that might have given him a chance to at least exit the bullpen in October.
However, those hopes have now been dashed with Monday’s news, dealing a blow to the Dodgers’ pitching staff less than two months before the playoffs begin.
“We took the opportunity to try to take time, to start a progression to bring him back for this year”, director Dave Roberts said. “Then as he went through that, we couldn’t get over the bump. We shot it and now we gotta get in [for surgery].”
While the implications of Buehler’s injury are clear, Roberts’ explanation on Monday of the exact problem was vague.
He said the right-hander had experienced some discomfort in his elbow while playing ball last week, prompting him to undergo an MRI.
The MRI results weren’t clear enough to determine the exact problem, but since Buehler was already not progressing as well as the team had hoped, Roberts said ElAttrache – the chief medical officer at the Dodgers team and one of the most prominent orthopedic surgeons in the sport — surgery recommended.
“Whatever Dr. ElAttrache saw, he felt the best course of action was to come back, get the surgery, really figure out what the problem was. [and] fix it,” Roberts said.
Roberts said he doesn’t believe Tommy John’s surgery — which Buehler underwent as a prospect — was a possibility.
Other than that, however, the manager reiterated that the team no longer had any concrete information, including a potential timetable for how long Buehler’s recovery might take.
“I don’t know how long,” Roberts said when asked about Buehler’s availability for the start of next season. “Just looking at the calendar, I’m sure it will have an impact [on next season]. But I’m very hesitant to give a timeline.
Roberts added: “I expect to get more information once they understand what the diagnosis was and what they did to fix any part of the elbow. But for now, that’s all we have. »
At the start of the season, Buehler needed to anchor the rotation.
The 28-year-old was coming out of his best season as a major leaguer in 2021when he went 16-4 with a 2.47 ERA and finished fourth in Cy Young Award voting.
He was named the Dodgers’ opening day starter this year for the first time in his career.
He seemed to be picking up a coat Clayton Kershaw had held for the previous decade, should be the ace of staff for a team with World Series expectations.
In the end, however, none of this materialized.
Buehler has been inconsistent through the first two months of the campaign with a 4.02 ERA in 12 starts, particularly struggling with his usually dominant fastball.
Then, during a June 12 start against the San Francisco Giants, he said something in his elbow “caught” while he was on the mound, forcing him to leave his outing early and to be tested the next day.
It was then that Buehler was diagnosed with the flexor tendon strain and later decided to also have the arthroscopic procedure to remove the bone spur he had had for several years, which shouldn’t have been a problem. impact on his return schedule.
For the next two months, the Dodgers had held out hope that Buehler would indeed be back in time for the playoffs.
This was part of their reasoning for staying quiet during the trade deadline.
They were still considering a possibility where the right-hander could help their pursuit of a championship.
“I’m going to do everything I can to come back and contribute as much as I can,” a seemingly optimistic Buehler said last month.
Monday’s news has definitively erased those hopes.
“It’s definitely a hit,” Roberts said. “We are better with Walker on our ball club. But we can’t do anything about it. I still believe we have enough guys to get through October to avoid the races. But yeah, I mean, I wanted, we wanted Walker to be a part of it.