Los Angeles Dodgers fans were ecstatic when it seemed like ace Walker Buehler might pitch before the end of the 2023 season. But, despite a mostly encouraging recovery from Tommy John surgery, Buehler just didn't quite feel like he was where he needed to be.

“I checked a lot of the boxes that I wanted to,” is how Buehler described his physical progress, courtesy of Dodger Blue's Matthew Moreno. “But at the end of the day, I wasn’t recovering the way I needed to make an impact here.”

The decision is prudent for both Buehler and the team in the long-term. But it's certainly a blow to LA's 2023 chances. The Dodgers hoped to get Buehler back in time for the playoffs. Optimism was in the air when Buehler was scheduled to pitch for the Oklahoma City Dodgers in early September.

Ultimately, Buehler did not feel as if he was recovering on days between pitching as well as he would've hoped, per MLB.com's Juan Toribio. It was at that point that he and the team decided to scrap any plans to return in 2023. Instead, the focus shifts to the 2024 season.

Buehler underwent Tommy John surgery back in August of 2022. This was after experiencing pain in his pitching elbow during a July start. He has been largely excellent for the Dodgers since making his MLB debut in 2017. In 106 starts, he's posted a 46-16 record with a 3.02 ERA and a 1.036 WHIP.

The Dodgers will cruise into the playoffs once they officially capture their 10th NL West title in 11 years. (They are currently 13 games clear of the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks.) But the Buehler news further depletes the team's pitching options.

LA already is without starter Julio Urias. The left-hander was placed on administrative leave following his arrest on charges of felony domestic violence.