The Dodgers will start off the year with a number of lingering doubts and questions surrounding their starting rotation. With uncertainty on who will be back, there are concerns. But Walker Buehler is most definitely not one of their concners.
With Max Scherzer having departed in free agency and Clayton Kershaw not on the table, for the time being, Buehler is their ace. And 2022 looks to be a landmark year for his young career. The 27-year-old just wrapped up a Cy Young type of campaign with ESPN's Buster Olney labeling him one of the top 10 pitchers in Major League Baseball.
Olney's offseason starting pitcher rankings have Buehler coming in as the 6th best in all of baseball. He had this to say regarding the young ace and his potential heading into the new season:
With a month to play in the 2021 season, he appeared to be the front-runner for the NL Cy Young Award, but with Wheeler, Scherzer and Brandon Woodruff setting an absurdly high bar, Buehler wound up finishing fourth. But Buehler is 27, and it stands to reason he will move up this list and perhaps win one or more Cy Young Awards in his career.
To put it mildly, 2021 was Buehler's finest year in terms of success. He had a career-high 33 starts and a career-low 2.47 ERA across 207.2 innings pitched. If the Dodgers are going to have similar regular-season success in 2021, it will feature plenty of success from Buehler.
The pressure will not fall solely on Buehler, as fellow starter Julio Urías missed the top 10 and was named an honorable mention. Clayton Kershaw, a free agent, also just barely misses the Top 10 list, and he would be another huge piece to put together if he comes back to LAD.