As ubiquitous as Clayton Kershaw was throughout his career in national baseball, Dodger's right-handed Walker Buehler could be an even bigger game in October by the end of his time in Los Angeles.
Buhler is thrown up to 61 1/3 career playoff innings after six frames of one-run ball Friday in Game 3 of the World Series. By the time Kershaw was Buhler's age, he had thrown 37 2/3 innings post-season.
At the age of 26, Bühler already had championship classes in the World Series in two different seasons (he was goalless seven times in game 3 of the autumn classic 2018). His career playoff ERA is 2.35. His 10-hit performance in a 6-2 win over the Rays was possibly his most memorable high-stakes performance to date, well setting up the Dodgers to end their championship drought for good.
Tampa Bay hitters sniffed 18 of their 52 hits against Bühler. They didn't score until the fifth inning, when the Dodgers were already well ahead. If the Rays manage to get the World Series to Game 7, they would have to hit the skinny Vanderbilt product again in a matchup that clearly puts them at a disadvantage.
"That was maybe the best I've ever seen," said Dodger's catcher Austin Barnes.
MORE: MLB is changing its interactive approach to fans
Bühler might not become the standout regular season player that some colleagues in his age group are becoming – although he still has time to get there. The Indian right-hander Shane Bieber, for example, has had an untouchable year that should bring him a Cy Young Award.
But it's rare that anyone gets the opportunity that Bühler has had after the season, let alone its accompanying success. The Dodgers are expected to be a playoff force in the years to come. As Bühler gets older, the résumé will likely be expanded for October.
"The more you do these things, the calmer you become," said Buhler. "I feel good in these places."
So his three option fastball / knuckle turn / slider attack should get hold of the minds of baseball fans across the country in a way no one in his generation of hardworking starters can hope for.
"As a big game pitcher and really successful on this stage, there are few people (like this)," said Dave Roberts, manager of Dodgers. "He's really in elite society. I'm just glad he's wearing a Dodgers uniform."