The Los Angeles Dodgers' unlimited resources both from a financial and talent perspective have made them the epitome of consistency over the past decade. However, despite winning the NL West for the 10th time in the past 11 years in the 2023 season, the Dodgers' pitching corps wasn't as elite as it has been in years past, which ultimately led to their downfall in the postseason in the NLDS. But in 2024, big-time pitching reinforcement is on the way, with Walker Buehler set to return to the mound after missing the entire season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery back in August 2022.
Even with Buehler's return, there will be questions surrounding the Dodgers' rotation entering the 2024 season. But at the very least, they will be getting back the services of their ace, someone who, as manager Dave Roberts said, has a great relationship with the team and its coaching staff, which should bode well for his success upon his return from a lengthy absence.
“[Walker Buehler's return is] going to be great. He's a guy that I have a great relationship with and I count on. … I'm really excited about getting him back and anchoring our staff,” Roberts said, per Matthew Moreno of Dodger Blue.
Buehler, indeed, has been nothing short of spectacular throughout his tenure with the Dodgers, and barring some unforeseen setbacks in his recovery from a torn UCL, he should be ready to re-assume his place atop their rotation. In Buehler's last full season (2021), he pitched to the tune of a 2.47 ERA in 207.2 innings (33 starts), striking out 212 in the process. When the season starts in March 2024, 19 months will have passed since Buehler went under the knife, which is plenty of time for him to recover and return to form.
The 29-year old's impending return to the mound, would, at the very least, ease some of the Dodgers' headaches with regards to the starting rotation this offseason. They are also dealing with Clayton Kershaw's free agency, and they are currently pursuing plenty of other options on the market. But in the end, Walker Buehler's return is like adding an elite free-agent pitcher from free agency.