2. RHP Walker Buehler
Walker Buehler was another September call-up for the Dodgers last season and much like Verdugo, he struggled. Although you could see signs of promise in Buehler’s stuff, it was obvious how green he really was and whether or not he was ready for the big leagues. With proper work in the offseason and a strong performance in Spring, Buehler’s path to the roster is easier than Verdugo.
That is because the Dodgers may need a right-handed arm in their starting rotation. Right now, the team has Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda and Brandon McCarthy. Maeda thrived in the bullpen and that may be his permanent place while McCarthy was not the same after suffering from yips.
Thus, there are four left-handed arms in the rotation and not a single right-hander. Although this may lead to a big free agent signing, if it doesn’t, the Dodgers only real backup plan is to call on Buehler. At first, Buehler may be better suited in the bullpen with Maeda in the rotation. However, his stuff is hard to ignore and in a long 162 game season, he will get a shot at starting.
Buehler definitely does have what it takes to succeed at the big league level. Buehler can pump his fastball in the high 90s, making his otherwise good offspeed stuff into great offspeed stuff. With Rick Honeycutt working his magic, Buehler can become a machine that mixes up pitches to make batters look foolish.
It may be a stretch for Buehler to pitch enough to win the award after his Tommy John surgery in 2015. However, the Dodgers could use his services and that may accelerate his transition into the league.