Walker Buehler solid in return from blister woes as Los Angeles Dodgers win

The Los Angeles Dodgers activated Walker Buehler, who has been dealing with a blister on his right index finger for about a month, off the injured list Thursday for one final tuneup start before the postseason.

He went four innings (65 pitches) against the Oakland Athletics in the Dodgers' 5-1 win, allowing only one hit and striking out six while surrendering one walk.

"My stuff was probably as good as it has been this year," Buehler said after the victory.

A's leadoff hitter Tommy La Stella concurred.

"His fastball, he had it going," La Stella said. "Throwing it for strikes, throwing the breaking ball well."

Buehler, 26, was placed on the IL because of that blister for the second time in two weeks on Sept. 10, but the right-hander threw a six-inning, 90-pitch simulated game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, throwing the first 75 pitches with his finger uncovered.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said pregame that he would be monitoring Buehler "pretty closely" in his return and that the primary objective was to ensure he didn't suffer a setback.

"Walker feels really good, confident, the finger itself in a good place," Roberts said before the game. "It's just up to all of us to make sure we just manage it tonight. He wouldn't be making this start if we didn't feel good as far as him taking on a regular start."

Buehler recently sought advice from former Dodgers starter Rich Hill, who has dealt with blisters throughout his career and relayed treatment suggestions, including how to approach the situation mentally.

"He's a great resource. He's definitely helped," Buehler said. "There's some weird parts about having a blister. Moving forward, I hope it's not a problem."

The Dodgers are still ironing out most of their pitching plans for the best-of-three wild-card series that begins at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, partly because they might not learn the identity of their opponent until the end of the week.

Buehler and Clayton Kershaw are expected to start the first two games, but the Dodgers have yet to determine the order. A potential Game 3 could see the Dodgers deploy an opener, with the traditional No. 3 starter -- either Julio Urias, Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin -- pitching bulk innings later in the game.

Buehler wasn't properly stretched out when Major League Baseball restarted and had logged only 32⅔ innings heading into his final regular-season start, posting a 3.86 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 10 walks. Most of his recent work had come in controlled environments.

"He's still pitched and understood what's at stake in these sim games, and I expect him to be sharp," Roberts said pregame. "You're one start away from the postseason, so I expect him to be sharp and ready to go."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.