Dodgers @ Rockies June 18, 2024: Buehler looks to get back on track in Colorado

The Dodgers (45-29) won easily last night in the series opener with Colorado (25-47) by a score of 9-5. Despite the final score, the Dodgers held a 9-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth when J.P. Feyereisen gave up four earned runs. Hopefully that doesn’t give the Rockies any momentum for the next three games. Walker Buehler has had a rough go of it so far, but is just seven starts into his season. He’ll get all the opportunity to get back into form, but pitching in Coors Field never seems to help anyone … besides James Paxton? Paxton had his best start of the year last night, going seven innings allowing just one earned run with eight strikeouts. Strange. If he can do it, so can Buehler. The left-handed Austin Gomber will be on the mound for Colorado.

5:40 P.M. Denver
DH Ohtani (L) DH Blackmon (L)
C Smith CF Doyle
1B Freeman (L) SS Tovar
RF T. Hernández 3B McMahon (L)
CF Pages 1B Toglia (S)
SS Rojas LF Jones (L)
3B K. Hernández C Goodman
LF Vargas RF Cave (L)
2B Taylor 2B Trejo
P Buehler (R) P Gomber (L)

Both teams switch a few things around, as the Dodgers will face the left-handed Gomber and the Rockies will face the right-handed Buehler after seeing Paxton yesterday. Most notably for Colorado, Ryan McMahon is back in the lineup as is Charlie Blackmon. McMahon has a 112 wRC+ on the year with an .803 OPS, although he’s had reverse splits on the year. He’s slashing .316/.407/.519 for a 149 wRC+ against lefties, compared to .243/.317/.432 against RHP. Regardless, he’s probably their best offensive player and is very good at third base as well. Blackmon also has reverse splits this year, with a 143 wRC+ against lefties compared to 84 wRC+ against righties. Not sure what’s going on with those two, but they’re impact players in Colorado’s lineup.

The Dodgers run out all their platoon-esque guys against the left-handed Gomber. Chris Taylor (.351 OPS), Kiké Hernández (.580), and Miguel Vargas (.854) will all start tonight. Miguel Rojas (.799 OPS) is normally part of that group, but is now just the everyday starter with Mookie Betts out. Kiké hasn’t been great this year, but is slashing .238/.294/.397 against lefties, good for a 99 wRC+. So long as he can hit lefties at an average clip or above and play anywhere in the field, he’s valuable.

Vargas needs to hit like crazy. He can’t seem to stick in this lineup and get any meaningful playing time with the current roster situation. They won’t play him in the infield anymore, so even though he’s an offensive upgrade over Gavin Lux or Cavan Biggio, that’s no longer an option. He’s behind Kiké due to the positonal versatility that Kiké provides, and he’s behind Taylor because the team is doing everything they can to get Taylor going. I personally wouldn’t have him on the major league roster if he’s playing twice a week, but I don’t make those decisions. If you want Taylor to get back into form, play him everyday and let Vargas succeed in the minors. You’ll get your answer as to whether or not Taylor has anything left in the tank much quicker, and won’t deprive Vargas of outfield reps in the meantime.


Here’s how Gomber and Buehler compare. Gomber’s rankings are among 76 starters with at least 70 innings pitched. He’s a third of an inning off, so I just threw him in there.

Buehler allowed two earned runs on seven hits and one walk with two strikeouts over five innings in his last outing, resulting in his fourth loss of the year. He should’ve been pulled before facing Corey Seager again, but Dave Roberts left him in and Buehler proceeded to give up a three-run homer. Maybe if Buehler were sharp that decision would’ve been fine, but he just hasn’t been sharp enough to get through those situations yet. It was the was the sixth time in his seven outings that Buehler has allowed at least three runs (although one was unearned in his last outing). Still, outside of his six inning shutout against the Reds, he’s looked like he hasn’t pitched in two years which ultimately is the case. It might be a while before he starts to look similar to his former self.

Gomber has the same record as Buehler currently at 1-4, after a loss in his most recent outing against the Twins. It was ugly, and easily his worst outing of the year. He allowed eight runs on elven hits and one walk over three innings. He’s now allowed fifteen runs over his last eleven innings and three starts, although prior to this stretch he had allowed just two runs over his last four starts. He faced the Dodgers just a few weeks ago in Los Angeles, going three innings while allowing three earned runs on five hits and three walks. He had a 1.86 ERA in 29 innings for the Cardinals in 2019 while mainly coming out of the bullpen, and he might just need to end up on a different team or in a different role.


Ten years ago today, Clayton Kershaw threw a no-hitter against the Rockies. It was a special start, and this is a nice 20+ minute video about that outing.


Bruce puts a lot of work into the prospect notes, so you should check out his work from earlier today.


First pitch is at 5:40 p.m. PDT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

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Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!