Word came down on Tuesday — initially from Walker Buehler himself — that Buehler’s surgery ended up being the worst case scenario: his second Tommy John surgery.
Now that the surgery is done, Buehler’s path forward becomes more clear, although the timeline remains murky. Dustin May returned to the mound last week, about 15.5 months after his surgery.
But a second Tommy John often takes longer to rehab — Dodgers reliever Caleb Ferguson just returned in May after having his second Tommy John in September 2020, a recovery time of about 20 months.
Twenty months from now would be the first month of the 2024 season. Even the best-case scenario would be about 15 months, which would have him ready to pitch about a month after the 2023 World Series ends. So Buehler will surely miss all of 2023, but we don’t know much beyond that. Neither does Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.
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“I don’t know. I just know that today went well. As we start getting into rehab and the progression and as he starts to pick up a ball, we’ll have a better sense. I think it (the surgery) going as well as can be expected just leaves that open-ended to the point of just not being able to answer it right now.”
Losing Buehler for 2023 also opens up some questions for the starting rotation. The Dodgers have Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias, and May as locks for their rotation next season. Beyond that, there are a lot of question marks. Clayton Kershaw seems likely to return, and it’s not crazy to think free agents Tyler Anderson and (or) Andrew Heaney might want to re-sign with LA.
Then you have prospects such as Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, and Gavin Stone, all of whom seem likely to be ready for big-league action next year.
So there are options, but Friedman doesn’t really know what direction they’ll go.
“I have yet to really wrap my arms around this offseason. We spent a little time in June, early July, starting to play that out. But obviously, things changed.
“There’s no question it’s something we’re going to have to address when we get into the offseason.”