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The All-Time Greatness of Walker Buehler’s First 100 Starts

The Dodgers phenom’s achievements so far in his career put him in the conversation with Walter Johnson, Dwight Gooden, and Whitey Ford

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler is not getting nearly enough hype for someone who’s one of the greatest pitchers of all time through his first 100 starts.

Yes, read that again. Internalize it. Because it’s verifiably true.

The 27-year-old righty had another typically dominant performance in Sunday night’s 7-1 win over the Chicago Cubs, allowing one run on four hits over seven innings while striking out six. It lowered his ERA to a sparkling 1.96 through six starts, with the Kentucky native allowing just a single on 38 thrown cutters at Wrigley.

Sunday also marked Buehler’s 100th career regular season start. And it’s not even close to hyperbole when we say he’s had one of the best first 100 starts we’ve ever seen.

Consider his 43-13 record with a 2.70 ERA, a 0.986 WHIP, and 652 strikeouts in an almost perfectly symmetrical 599 2/3 innings. That’s sensational of its face, but let’s give you a quick breakdown of how that stacks up historically:

  • Those 13 losses through 100 starts are the fewest ever, shattering the mark of 17 set by New York Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Whitey Ford, whose 100th career start came in 1955.
  • He’s the only starter with a WHIP lower than 1 since at least 1901. The next three behind him are Hall of Famers Addie Joss, Ed Walsh, and Walter Johnson, whose careers ended in 1910, 1917, and 1927 respectively.
  • The 2.70 ERA is the 4th-lowest through 100 starts since baseball lowered the mound in 1969, bested only by Dwight Gooden, Ron Guidry, and Vida Blue.
  • His .768 winning percentage through 100 starts is second only to Ford, who went 58-17 through 100 for a .773 win percentage.
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Those are some insane numbers, ones that even future Hall of Fame teammate Clayton Kershaw didn’t approach during a similar span. Even more insane is the value the Dodgers are getting from this historically elite production, with Buehler on the second year of a two-year, $8 million deal. He’ll have two more arbitration years before hitting his first scheduled free agency after the 2024 season, at which point he’ll be 30 years old.

Barring injury, he should get a $200 million-plus contract if he maintains even something close to his current level of production.

With that in mind, it’s a shame that so many mainstream sports fans don’t necessarily know who Walker Buehler is. If someone was this dominant in the NFL or NBA, they’d be everywhere. Major League Baseball needs to shine a light on Buehler and dominant, ascendant stars like him. If you’re showcasing potential that’s of the all-time great variety, it’s the least we could do to recognize and celebrate your dazzling displays.

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