Dodgers’ Walker Buehler has been ‘not great’ in rehab outings, Dave Roberts says

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers talk about “checking boxes” when players – particularly pitchers – are returning from injury.

Walker Buehler has checked some. But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts would like to see him check one important box.

“He hasn’t pitched in a long time,” Roberts said of Buehler, who has made four starts on a minor-league injury rehabilitation assignment this season and one last September but hasn’t pitched in a major-league game since June 2022.

“But when you’re on the heels of pitching for us, you have to be good, too.”

The results were not very good in Buehler’s rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday. He gave up two first-inning runs after the first four batters he faced reached base. The Dodgers hoped he would get to 80-85 pitches but he lasted just 2⅔ innings, throwing 68 pitches, only half for strikes while walking four.

Roberts said he was “anxious to talk to” Buehler about the outing while keeping his answers short.

How has Buehler looked in his rehab outings? “Not great,” Roberts said. “Not great.”

What does he need to show? “Command,” Roberts said.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was less critical.

“Actually watching his start last night, I think his stuff is in a really good spot,” said Friedman, who watched video of the outing. “I’ve seen it with a lot of major-league pitchers who are on a rehab assignment – the adrenaline is different. I don’t think we’ll have a really good answer until he’s built up and back. But we’ve all seen Walker a lot over the years and we would absolutely bet on him.

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“But the most important thing for us, watching a guy on rehab, is where’s their stuff and execution. Just looking at the box score last night, I assumed the execution was poor. Watching it, it was way better than that and the stuff is in a really good place. Those are the two most important factors that we look at with a guy on rehab and I would say he checked both those boxes.”

Roberts said he expects Buehler to make another rehab start next Wednesday either with OKC again or Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.

“I do expect him to dial it in,” Roberts said.

In the meantime, right-hander Landon Knack will remain in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. He allowed two runs in five innings in his major-league debut on Wednesday. Both runs scored in the first inning and Knack retired 10 consecutive batters at one point.

PITCHING PROGRESS

Relief pitchers Blake Treinen (ribs) and Brusdar Graterol (shoulder) each made significant steps forward on the off day Thursday.

Treinen threw to hitters for the second time this week and said he is feeling no effect from the injury he suffered at the end of the Cactus League schedule. He will throw to hitters again on Saturday and is expected to go on a rehab assignment while the Dodgers are on the road next week.

Graterol threw off a mound in a brief, 17-pitch bullpen session. He has to progress to throwing to hitters and then go on a rehab assignment before he’s ready to join the Dodgers.

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Roberts said Bobby Miller (shoulder) will start playing catch “sometime this weekend.” And Emmett Sheehan (forearm) will do the same at some point next week.

ALSO

Outfielder Taylor Trammell was claimed on waivers by the New York Yankees. The Dodgers designated Trammell for assignment earlier this week when they promoted Andy Pages from Triple-A. …

Miguel Vargas missed two games with Triple-A Oklahoma City this week in order to take – and pass – the test to become a United States citizen. The 24-year-old, Cuban-born Vargas is batting .286 with a .960 OPS in 16 games for OKC (13 of them in left field).

UP NEXT

Mets (RHP José Butto, 0-0, 0.75 ERA) at Dodgers (RHP Gavin Stone, 1-1, 6.14 ERA), Saturday, 1:05 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA, Fox Sports 1, 570 AM

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