LOS ANGELES -- Nearly three weeks later, Trevor Story's line drive finally knocked Walker Buehler out of a game.
Buehler was removed in the sixth inning of the Dodgers' 7-3 win over the Braves with lingering discomfort that he's apparently been pitching with since May 21 against the Rockies, when Story's 108-mph liner drilled Buehler below on his right side. Buehler stayed in that game, and he hadn't missed any action until Friday night.
"There was always something there, but he felt he could make his starts, which he has," manager Dave Roberts said. "He said he had a little trouble breathing, and he was in pain. To his credit, he's as tough as they come. He wanted to stay in there."
Buehler went for additional tests after Friday night's game to determine if a fracture exists that was not picked up by the initial X-rays. He was not available for comment. Roberts said Buehler had been receiving treatment on the area since sustaining the injury.
Buehler struck out Johan Camargo in a 10-pitch at-bat leading off the top of the sixth, but Roberts said a dramatic drop of 4 mph on Buehler's fastball velocity was a red flag. When Roberts and a trainer went to the mound, and Buehler confirmed that he was in pain and having trouble breathing, Roberts said removing the National League Rookie of the Year Award candidate was then a "no-brainer."
"It just made my stomach sick," closer Kenley Jansen said of Buehler's injury. "I mean, I've never seen this before, to be honest with you. And just to see him and know that we have six guys down in the bullpen. ... We were hoping that he'd try to eat innings for us."
Buehler was having another strong outing, taking a perfect game into the fifth and allowing only one run on two hits. He improved to 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA.
Buehler hit in the bottom of the fifth, grounding the first pitch to Braves pitcher Brandon McCarthy, and the velocity drop became noticeable shortly thereafter.
The Dodgers had hoped to get maximum innings from Buehler because the bullpen was taxed. Caleb Ferguson went 1 2/3 innings in his MLB debut against the Pirates on Wednesday and rookie Dennis Santana was a game-time scratch on Thursday after he was diagnosed with a strained right rotator cuff that will sideline him indefinitely. The Dodgers used nine relievers in Thursday's win vs. Pittsburgh.
An injury to Buehler for any length of time would only further subtract from a rotation decimated, with four members (Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu) already on the disabled list, not counting Santana or Julio Urias.
Triple-A Oklahoma's Daniel Corsino was in the clubhouse as a member of the taxi squad on Friday, indicating he will be activated on Saturday. However, Roberts said after the game that Alex Wood would make his scheduled start on Saturday.
"If you're a pitcher on this staff," Roberts said, "heads up."