LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers top prospectWalker Buehler showed off all of his tools in his first MLB start Monday night, including his confidence.He fired off five scoreless innings, dazzling at times, in a game the Dodgers pulled out late, 2-1, over the Marlins on Cody Bellinger's eighth-inning sacrifice fly. Officially,
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers top prospectWalker Buehler showed off all of his tools in his first MLB start Monday night, including his confidence.
He fired off five scoreless innings, dazzling at times, in a game the Dodgers pulled out late, 2-1, over the Marlins on Cody Bellinger's eighth-inning sacrifice fly. Officially, it was a no-decision for Buehler, although the decision in the Dodgers' clubhouse was unanimous.
"Walker was electric," said former Marlin Kiké Hernandez, who was the offensive and defensive star, subbing at shortstop for Corey Seager with a home run, two singles and a pair of Gold Glove-caliber gems. "We expect that and more from him. We expect a lot from him.
"Not too often you get drafted in the first round when you need Tommy John surgery. So, this kid must be a stud. He's pretty confident, pretty cocky. Fastball looked like it was 120 [mph] from playing shortstop. The slider looked like 100 as well. It's pretty fun watching, playing behind him. He's got special talent and hopefully we'll see that for a very long time."
• Hernandez shows why he's Roberts' go-to sub
The Dodgers have won seven of their last eight games, while the Marlins have lost 15 of 18. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was non-committal after the game, but earlier indications were that Buehler will start again on Saturday in the doubleheader in San Francisco.
Recalled to sub for the injured Rich Hill against Miami, Buehler needed a professional-career-high 89 pitches to get through the five innings. Roberts said Buehler will learn to be more efficient, but he had nothing but praise for the 23-year-old.
"You look at the heartbeat, and there's no panic," Roberts said. "He steps up and makes pitches when he needs to. We talked about the confidence earlier, and I think it's real. I know it's real. He just feels he can make a pitch when he needs to make a pitch, and he doesn't scare off. There's a learning curve that's happening before our eyes."
Buehler, ranked as the game's No. 12 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, flashed a fastball that peaked at 99.5 mph in the first inning and peaked at 96.4 mph in the fifth.
"We had guys out there early, but he's obviously a guy with a tremendous arm and probably will just keep getting better," said Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
Buehler has been handled with kid gloves since signing with a damaged elbow that needed surgery. He opened this season in the Minor Leagues so management can throttle back his innings early, intending to keep him fresh for late in the season after throwing only 98 innings last year.
Buehler said his pitches Monday night weren't really good or bad, and after struggling to command his four-seam fastball in the early innings, he switched to a two-seamer the last two.
"It would be great to go and dominate, but to put up zeros and come out of the thing unscathed is the biggest thing," Buehler said. "The more comfortable I get here, the fastball command will come. I don't think I've thrown 89 pitches since the College World Series, so that was a wake-up for me."
The Dodgers held on in the ninth. With closer Kenley Jansen and Tony Cingrani unavailable after pitching the previous two games, Thomas Stripling pitched two scoreless innings after Buehler and Josh Fields pitched the ninth for the save.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A bunt, not just a blast: Hernandez provided the first hit and run with his homer, but a bunt single during the game-winning eighth-inning rally was key. After Chris Taylor's leadoff double, Hernandez dropped a perfect bunt and Miami pitcher Kyle Barraclough grabbed the ball but didn't make a throw. Bellinger followed with his screaming sacrifice liner that scored Taylor with the decisive run.
Landing a big punchout: The Marlins worked Buehler in the first, loading the bases and making him throw 26 pitches. The last was a foul tip that struck out J.B. Shuck, catcher Yasmani Grandal holding onto the ball to end the inning.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Super sub: Hernandez was making only his second start of the year in place of Seager at shortstop, but he looked like a Gold Glove candidate twice. With two outs and a runner on first in the second inning, Hernandez went into the hole and with his power arm threw out Miguel Rojas at first base. The next play was even tougher, with one out in the third inning ranging up the middle for a diving stop of Starlin Castro's bouncer, spinning to his feet and cutting down Castro at first.
HE SAID IT
"Yeah, homers are fun." -- Hernandez
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Dodgers (11-10) climbed above .500 for the first time this season.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Marlins challenged a foul-ball call on J.T. Realmuto's flare down the right-field line in the first inning. The call was confirmed. Realmuto's at-bat continued and he singled to left field.
Seager is expected to return to the starting lineup on Tuesday night when Kenta Maeda makes the 7:10 p.m. PT start against the Marlins and lefty Dillon Peters. Seager did not start Monday night against Garcia, but entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. Maeda has tried to be more aggressive early in the count, and the results are mixed. Strikeouts are up (24 in 14 1/3 innings), but so are hits (20) and walks (five).
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.