Buehlers premium stuff makes LA 20-8(!) – MLB.com

While fans can debate who the Dodgers’ “ace” is after Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw struck out 11 in back-to-back starts, the heir apparent spoke with due respect for the incumbent.
“Any game that he pitches, there’s stuff that all of us that are younger can pick up on,” Buehler

While fans can debate who the Dodgers’ “ace” is after Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw struck out 11 in back-to-back starts, the heir apparent spoke with due respect for the incumbent.

“Any game that he pitches, there’s stuff that all of us that are younger can pick up on,” Buehler said after his first win of the year, a 5-1 victory over the Rockies at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.

Box score

“His aggressiveness, his ability to own the 0-0 count, throw his other stuff in at any time. What he wants, and to do what he wants with it. I don’t know if it’s necessarily watching him do it. I think he’s proving he’s one of the best ever and does those things how you’re supposed to do. But I think reminding yourself, that’s how it’s supposed to be done, is a big thing, and I did a better job of that tonight.”

What Buehler said about Kershaw is what Buehler did against the Rockies. Six years younger and 2,087 career strikeouts behind Kershaw (now second on the franchise list), Buehler came into his fifth start with a 5.21 ERA, reflective of a second consecutive season that began inconsistently for the right-hander. But with visible confidence and command of his fastball, curve and cutter, Buehler retired the first 11 batters until Charlie Blackmon’s single to center and took a one-hit shutout into the sixth inning.

He left after six innings and 92 pitches having allowed one run on four hits without a walk, that ERA trimmed to 4.32. It was the sixth time in the last two years Buehler had struck out at least 11 without a walk, which leads MLB. He had walked nine and allowed five home runs in his first 19 innings this season.

“I was tired of being [expletive],” said Buehler. “Sorry for the language, but kind of tired of it. Definitely felt more like myself tonight.”

Now the Dodgers are back in business, with dominant front-line starters to go with the best record in baseball. They lead the division by four games and have won 21 of their last 25 games against the Rockies, who have lost eight of their last nine overall and must face the Dodgers nine more times in the final 32 games.

“Life is much better when those guys are pitching the way they are,” manager Dave Roberts said of his pair of aces. “And I do think there’s something to Walker following Clayton and matching him and keeping that momentum that Clayton sets. We’ve got Dustin [May] tomorrow, and he’s got eyes on Clayton and Walker and I would expect more of the same.”

After Buehler’s last start, even though he was charged with four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, Roberts predicted a breakout on the horizon. And, so it came to pass.

“I just felt that every start he was taking, there were adjustments and checking certain boxes,” Roberts said. “Walker’s such a finely tuned machine that to get to that optimum performance level, I just felt it was getting better and it seemed like he was primed, and I see it holding from here.

“Seeing he could command the baseball gave him more confidence. In his first few starts, there was a little more spray in there. Tonight, in counts where he might throw a cutter, he was bullish with the fastball.”

Even with Mookie Betts resting, the Dodgers jumped out to a first-inning lead against Jon Gray on doubles by Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger. The Dodgers added three runs in the fourth inning with Matt Beaty’s RBI single and Corey Seager’s two-run double.

Colorado strung three well-placed singles to right field in the sixth inning for their run and would have had two more if not for a running catch into the corner by right fielder Pederson, filling in for Betts.

“This wasn’t like previous outings. This looked like the original Buehler,” said Colorado manager Bud Black. “The velocity was up from previous outings. He was on his game. I mean, he threw really well. That was premium stuff tonight.”

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.