Walker Buehler is quickly becoming a household name. In his second full season as a Major League hurler, Buehler is making an astronomical impact on one of the best teams in the league, winning 10 of his 21 starts so far.
However, what is really turning heads is his 7.60 SO/W ratio. While finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting last season, Buehler posted a strong 4.08, but with an increase by one half in the K/9 and a decrease by one full in the BB/9 has Buehler in rare air.
Buehler’s 2019 campaign currently ranks 21st all time for a SO/W rate in a single season, just over a tenth of a point behind teammate Clayton Kershaw’s 2014 Cy Young campaign. It was actually Kershaw’s final Cy Young in a stretch of three in four years and the last one overall that he has won.
Buehler is also just ahead of this season’s version of Max Scherzer and six spots ahead of his other teammate Hyun-Jin Ryu’s 2019 season. In fact, to have three from the same season on the list in the top 30 was only matched by the 2014 campaign, with Kershaw, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Phil Hughes, who owns the best season in the mark ever with 11.625. In an era of high walks, this seems to be pretty close to an unobtainable mark for anyone. The closest since is Scherzer in 2015 with an 8.118 mark.
Back to Buehler though. The really interesting fact is just how young he is. Just recently turning 25 in July, Buehler has already logged 278 Major League innings and fanned 315 over that span. His 1.014 WHIP would rank fourth all-time for a career if he had reached the 1000 innings pitched plateau to qualify. Clearly, he is still a bit away from that, but it is still worth noting. Again, Kershaw ranks fourth with a career mark of 1.0075. Also, for the record, nine of the top 11 are in the Hall of Fame, with Kershaw and Chris Sale still being active. The small sample size is too early to start any talk of this, but he is off to a great start, sitting just over a fourth of the way away from qualifying.
Buehler also followed up Kershaw in becoming only the third Dodger to have a 15-plus strikeout and zero walk game with his second of 2019 on Saturday. According to MLB’s Sarah Langs, Kershaw had one in 2014 and Van Mungo had one back in 1935. Buehler already has two this season. Langs also pointed out the Buehler is one of only three hurlers to have two just games in a season. Pedro Martinez did it twice in 1999 and 2000. Dwight Gooden did it twice in 1984. To put Buehler in an even more rare category, he joins Sandy Koufax as the only Dodger pitchers who have multiple 15-plus strikeout games in a season, according to Jeremy Frank. Koufax did it three times in 1959, 1960, and 1962.
Buehler has been even more filthy at home, as he has walked just four of the 253 batters he has faced in Dodger stadium in 2019. Combine that with 86 strikeouts, it is good for an insane 21.5 SO/W ratio. Buehler has also allowed just 79 total bases in 10 home games this season, and a .0787 WHIP. Home sweet home at Chavez Ravine for sure.
Regardless, Buehler is putting up an all-time season for the Dodgers in 2019. One that has him in the same category as some of the greats in the game. At only 25 years old, the sky is the limit for the right hander.