Dodgers ace Walker Buehler out until at least late season

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Los Angeles Dodgers ace Walker Buehler won’t throw for 6-8 weeks because of a flexor strain in his right elbow, making late this season the most optimistic timetable for his return to a major league mound.

Buehler left Friday night’s start at San Francisco after four innings when his elbow began bothering him. After the game, Buehler said he’s dealt with occasional soreness in his elbow in recent years, and he expressed concern.

Buehler was placed on the 15-day injured list Saturday and flew to Los Angeles for an MRI. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said “as of now, yes,” when asked if Buehler could pitch for Los Angeles again this season.

If Buehler does resume throwing in six weeks, he would then have to build up arm strength and throw bullpens and batting practice before a likely minor league injury rehabilitation assignment.

The 27-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015, shortly after Los Angeles selected him from Vanderbilt with the 24th overall pick in the amateur draft. A two-time All-Star, Buehler is 6-3 with a 4.02 ERA in 12 starts.

“He’s our opening day starter, so to lose him in any capacity is a blow,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Hopefully, we’ll get him back sooner than later.”

Left-hander Clayton Kershaw was activated from the 15-day IL to start against San Francisco after missing a month with a back injury. He gave up two runs over four innings, working on a 70-pitch limit, in Los Angeles’ 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

The Dodgers recalled right-hander Michael Grove from Triple-A Oklahoma City and optioned lefty Justin Bruihl to the Pacific Coast League team.

“When you lose one of the best pitchers in the game, it’s a big blow to anybody,” Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman said of Buehler’s absence.

 Reporting by the Associated Press.

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