Following another successful rehab appearance, Clayton Kershaw appears ready to rejoin the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation and could do so as early as next week when the team faces the Washington Nationals. It will mark the first time that the team has had their rotation at full strength since their season-opening series in Australia.
Kershaw took the hill on Wednesday for Los Angeles’ Double-A affiliate, throwing 86 pitches over five innings. He’d allow two runs (only one was earned) on six hits, while striking out nine. The Dodgers had hoped he would throw between 75-80 pitches on the day, but Kershaw didn’t seem concerned about going over that limit when asked about it following the game, according to Associated Press quotes passed on by MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick:
I would like to have gotten through six or seven innings, but I had a good time working with these guys. It’s tough when pitch counts are in the back of your mind. Obviously the main goal of why I was here was to get my pitch count up and be ready for 100 plus pitches in the big leagues. At the same time, you’re trying to compete, too. Fortunately for me, I am kind of done with that and can go pitch now.
After starting for the Dodgers in their first game of the season on March 22nd, Kershaw has been on the shelf due to a strained muscle in his upper back. He’s been eager to return, wanting to come back following his first rehab start a week ago, but the Dodgers have maintained their position and have refused to rush him back into the mix.
Los Angeles entered the season as an overwhelming favorite in the NL West, but have yet to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. Installing Kershaw, the winner of two of the last three NL Cy Young Awards, back atop their rotation will certainly help them climb back onto the right track towards achieving that goal.