“There’s still no hard start date. There’s a progression that needs to be in place and is in place,” Roberts told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “Once he passes all those markers, he’ll be ready to go. I just don’t know when that’s going to be.”
Buehler, 29, has not pitched in the majors since undergoing his second career Tommy John surgery back in August 2022. He did make a minor-league appearance last year, throwing two shutout innings at the Triple-A level.
In six seasons at the big-league level, Buehler has amassed a 3.02 ERA (136 ERA+) and a 4.26 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His contributions have been worth an estimated 13.7 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference’s calculations. He’s finished top-10 in National League Cy Young Award voting on two occasions, including fourth in 2021.
Los Angeles’ offseason has included several notable starting pitching additions, ranging from Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Tyler Glasnow to James Paxton and Clayton Kershaw (who isn’t expected to pitch during the first half). The Dodgers also signed Shohei Ohtani, though he’ll miss the 2024 campaign as a pitcher following elbow surgery last year.
Those trades and signings have been necessary given how many Dodgers pitchers are compromised with health issues. Beyond Ohtani, Kershaw, and Buehler, the Dodgers may also be without Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Nick Frasso for the season following various arm-related surgeries.
The Dodgers will begin their regular season earlier than most teams. They’re scheduled to officially kick off the year with a two-game set in Seoul, South Korea against the San Diego Padres on March 20-21. Those contests will mark the first MLB games ever played in South Korea.