Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler delivered the first complete game of the Major League Baseball season on Monday night as part of a 4-0 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks (box score). Not only did it mark his third career complete game, but it also represented his first career shutout.
Buehler, 27 years old, entered Monday’s start with a 4.02 ERA (95 ERA+) and a 1.83 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first 15 ⅔ innings this season. On Monday, he held the Diamondbacks to three hits and no walks while striking out 10 batters on 108 pitches. He generated 14 swinging strikes on 56 pitches, including four apiece on his knuckle curveball and his changeup. Just one whiff came on his fastball.
As noted in the introduction, Buehler’s complete game was the first of an MLB season that has been marked by shorter starts than usual. That aspect is owed to the owner-imposed lockout that caused an abbreviated spring-training schedule. Coming into Monday, starting pitchers had averaged just five innings and 83 pitches per start, according to Baseball Reference’s calculations.
Buehler also became the first pitcher this season to record more than 24 outs in a start, as four other pitchers (Kevin Gausman, Sandy Alcántara, Justin Verlander, and Logan Webb) had previously. The last big-league pitcher to throw a complete game or a shutout was Philadelphia Phillies southpaw Ranger Suárez. He accomplished the feat last September against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Dodgers entered Monday with an 11-4 record on the season, putting them in first place in the National League West by a half game over the San Francisco Giants. The Giants managed a come-from-behind victory against the Milwaukee Brewers, meaning the Dodgers will enter Tuesday with that half-game lead intact.