PHOENIX >> The Dodgers have been unwilling to discuss Walker Buehler in trade talks multiple times over the past year because they think he has a very bright future as a starting pitcher in the major leagues.For now, though, Buehler is not a starting pitcher at all and his immediate future as a major-leaguer might be as a reliever.The 2015 first-round draft pick moved to the bullpen with Triple-A Oklahoma City at the start of August as part of a plan in place for this season – Buehler’s first full season following Tommy John surgery – according to Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.“Obviously his first full year back from Tommy John, we’re monitoring workload and making sure he gets to a certain point over the course of the season,” Friedman said of the two-fold plan. “But we’re also getting a chance to see him in that role to the extent that it potentially makes sense to bring him up in September. That decision has not been made to this point. But there is no downside in that this was the plan all along.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The 23-year-old Buehler has thrown 78 2/3 innings this season while progressing from Class-A through Double-A to Triple-A, where he made three starts before moving to the bullpen. Over his 19 starts at those three levels, Buehler had a 3.11 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 98 strikeouts in 75 1/3 innings while drawing rave reviews from scouts.In his first two relief appearances, Buehler has been less dominating. He has allowed three hits and walked three leading to three runs in 3-1/3 innings. Buehler needed 78 pitches to get through those two outings.“It’s a transition,” Friedman said. “He hasn’t been incredibly pitch efficient, but the stuff has been there. It’s early.”It’s also far too early to project Buehler into the Dodgers’ bullpen or handicap his chances of pitching his way onto a postseason roster with the big-league team. Buehler is not on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster and the Dodgers will be clearing space to add at least two players from their 60-day DL in the days ahead (Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier) and possibly more (Adam Liberatore, Rob Segedin and Franklin Gutierrez).“He will be in the conversation but there’s a lot of factors involved,” Friedman said of Buehler. “So much of it has to do with how he’s performing, where our guys are currently, the number of 60-day guys coming back, other non-40-man guys being added and all of that factored in – so it’s hard to say right now.” Future YuBecause of his impending free agency, the acquisition of Yu Darvish was viewed as a “rental.” But the same was true a year ago when the Dodgers traded for Rich Hill before the non-waiver trade deadline. The Dodgers re-signed Hill for three years and $48 million.Re-signing Darvish (who will turn 31 Wednesday, the same day he is scheduled to make his first home start for the Dodgers) will be a much more expensive prospect. Darvish is expected to seek a contract in excess of five years and $125 million.The Dodgers have been reluctant to make that kind of investment in a starting pitcher – or get that involved in the free-agent market other than re-signing their own players – since Friedman took over. Hill, Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy each received $48 million deals as free agents. Closer Kenley Jansen was re-signed for five years and $80 million last winter, the largest contract the Dodgers have negotiated under Friedman.“All of our focus is on the 2017 season,” Friedman said of the possibility of signing Darvish beyond this year. “I know Yu’s mindset is that he’s happy to be here, looking forward to competing. He’s earned the right to get to major-league free agency and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. But we’ve loved having him around. He’s fit in seamlessly with our group.”Puig splitsRight fielder Yasiel Puig was not in the starting lineup Thursday. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Puig has been dealing with some hamstring and knee soreness, which he aggravated earlier in the series.“Just trying to stay ahead of it and watch his workload,” Roberts said.But it was no coincidence that Roberts chose to give Puig the day off against Diamondbacks left-hander Anthony Banda. Puig has backward splits – he is better against same-handed pitchers – for his career, but has been downright terrible against left-handers this season with a .149 average and .472 OPS against lefties.Roberts said he can’t explain Puig’s struggles against lefties this year but said a turnaround is needed, preferably before the postseason, because Puig’s elite defense makes it difficult to platoon him.