The right-handed Buehler was coming back on just three days’ rest, with the 106-win Dodgers in a must-win situation. The Braves led the best-of-seven series 3-2.
With a full week of rest, Buehler was roughed up by the Braves in his Game 3 start on Tuesday, giving up four runs (two earned) and six hits in just 3 2/3 innings. The Dodgers rallied for a 6-5 victory.
Buehler also pitched on short rest in Game 4 of the NL Division Series, going 4 1/3 innings against the San Francisco Giants. He gave up one run and three hits.
In three starts during this postseason, Buehler was 0-1 with a 3.77 ERA in 14 1/3 innings. In the regular season, he was one of the NL’s top pitchers with 16-4 record and a 2.47 ERA.
Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner acquired by the Dodgers from Washington just before the trade deadline, complained of a dead arm after starting Game 2 of the NLCS on just two days’ rest after a 13-pitch save in the clincher of the Division Series.
The Dodgers did not immediately say why he was scrubbed from his scheduled start, but his right arm had clearly not recovered from his 4 1/3-inning stint last Sunday.
The 37-year-old threw 79 pitches, gave up four hits and two runs, and struck out seven. He did not get a decision in Atlanta’s 5-4 win.
With Scherzer out, the Dodgers had few other options other than going back to Buehler, who was initially set to pitch Game 7 if the series made it that far.
Julio Urias started Game 4 on Wednesday, and Clayton Kershaw is out with an injury. The Dodgers already went with a bullpen approach in Game 5, losing reliever Joe Kelly to a postseason-ending injury in the process.
The Dodgers activated David Price, but his last start was Aug. 22 and he hasn’t pitched at all in the postseason. Tony Gonsolin made 13 starts during the regular season but he’s been used exclusively in relief during the playoffs.