Walker Buehler’s secret to success? ‘A realization that it can all go away’

    ESPN MLB insider
    Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Oct. 8. After Max Scherzer will skip his scheduled start, Buehler is now starting the Dodgers’ must-win Game 6 against the Atlanta Braves on short rest.

On the car ride to Dodger Stadium, when it’s just him and the road and his thoughts, Walker Buehler fiddles with the music on his stereo until he finds the perfect song, one that sends his stomach into loop-de-loops and ignites the fear inside of him. Buehler chases this feeling as a matter of habit, of professional purpose. To be comfortable — to perform on a stage such that he does, to the level that he does it — Buehler believes he must understand, and even embrace, discomfort.

Buehler won’t make the drive to Dodger Stadium on Saturday — but he won’t necessarily have to manufacture any nerves, either. He will attempt to save his Dodgers’ 106-win season — on short rest — and he will do so saddled with the reputation that has defined his young career: big-game performer. It’s a designation he earned, of course, with 61⅓ innings of 2.35 ERA baseball in the playoffs. It’s also an eminence that can vanish with one bad series, bad game, bad inning.

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