The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted the now Los Angeles Dodger ace way back during the 2012 MLB Draft in the 14th round. However, like DeJong, Walker Buehler didn’t sign with the Pirates. Three years later, the Dodgers drafted him, this time in the 1st round and 24th overall, and signed with the club.
Buehler quickly established himself in the minors and by the beginning of 2017, the flame throwing right hander was among the game’s top prospects. He only built up his prospect stock more and after a strong full professional season, many prospect lists ranked him as a top 20 prospect.
Although Buehler made his debut in 2017, he didn’t get full playing time until 2018. But when he was inserted into the rotation, Buehler became an ace. In 137.1 innings, Buehler posted an ERA of 2.62, and 0.96 WHIP. He also had a strong FIP of 3.06, SIERA of 3.31, and 3.21 DRA. He also induced weak contact at a 23.1% rate. He walked just 37 of the 541 batters he faced, but struck out 151, accumulating a strong 4.08 K/BB ratio. With a 3.1 fWAR, he led all rookies, and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting.
Last year, Buehler put up similarly great numbers. Through his 182.1 innings of work, Walker had a 3.26 ERA, 3.01 FIP and 1.04 WHIP. Although he gave up more home runs on average with a 1.0 HR/9, everyone’s home run rates were up, and that was still above average. However, he was much better at controlling the ball, giving up the same amount of walks in ‘19 than his rookie season, but he faced nearly 200 more batters. He also improved his strikeout rate, as it rose to 29.2%. Although he did see a rise in SIERA to 3.51, his DRA dropped to 2.89. Overall, his season even earned him a couple of Cy Young votes, finishing 9th, and tying him with relief ace Kirby Yates.