Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler continues to trend in a positive direction. Buehler, who has not pitched since 2022 due to Tommy John Surgery, is nearing a return from injury. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Buehler “threw the ball really well” during his most recent rehab outing, per MLB.com.

Buehler made the appearance on Saturday. It was his second rehab start and he pitched well, recording six strikeouts.

The Dodgers hurler also reportedly threw 65 pitches. Roberts thinks the possibility of Buehler returning can be seriously addressed after his third rehab outing. Barring any setbacks, Buehler could join the Dodgers rotation soon.

Overall, Los Angeles is 8-4 so far during the 2024 campaign. The offense has been terrific, while the pitching has been fairly reliable. Tyler Glasnow is performing well, while Yoshinobu Yamamoto has flashed signs of stardom. Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone have endured ups and downs thus far.

The Dodgers feature an all-around talented roster. Still, they will benefit from Buehler's return. When healthy, Walker Buehler is one of the best pitchers in the sport.

Dodgers looking forward to Walker Buehler's return

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler (21) delivers a pitch against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at Oracle Park.
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Buehler made his big league debut in 2017 with the Dodgers. He appeared in just eight games during the '17 campaign, however. In 2018, though, Buehler established himself as a reliable starting pitcher.

He pitched to a stellar 2.62 ERA and 0.961 WHIP across 137.1 innings pitched. Buehler finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting as a result.

Buehler earned NL Cy Young consideration after recording a 3.26 ERA in 2019. He was also selected to the first All-Star game of his career during the '19 season.

Buehler played a big role during the Dodgers' World Series-winning 2020 season. It was a shortened campaign and he did not have the best regular season, but still pitched well enough to help the team win games.

2021, however, was the year Walker Buehler became a true ace without question. He pitched to a career-best 2.47 ERA across a league-leading 33 starts. Buehler also finished the year with a 0.968 WHIP and 212 strikeouts. The Dodgers star finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting and earned his second All-Star selection in 2021.

Unfortunately, Buehler suffered an elbow injury after just 12 starts in 2022 and ended up undergoing Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career.

Can Buehler return to his Cy Young-caliber form?

How good will Walker Buehler be when he returns to the Dodgers? After all, he has not pitched at the big league level in almost two years.

There is reason to remain optimistic about Buehler's chances of pitching at a high level. Yes, there may be rust once he initially returns to MLB. Buehler, though, is only 29 years old and clearly understands what it takes to find success against the best baseball players in the world.

Is Buehler immediately going to record Cy Young-caliber statistics? Maybe not, as it may take him a while to find his rhythm once again. It would not be surprising to see Buehler play a pivotal role for the Dodgers down the stretch in 2024, though.

Perhaps he can make a Cy Young case for himself once again in 2025 during a full season. The hope, of course, is that Buehler will be able to stay healthy.