Posted on June 22, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is getting his way. Rather than making a minor league rehab against his wishes, the Dodgers will activate Kershaw from the DL. The lefty will start the team’s game Saturday night against the Mets. It will be Kershaw’s second start since May 1, as he will return from the DL for the second time this season.
Kershaw’s first trip to the DL came in early May amidst soreness in his biceps. He returned on May 31 but made just one start before returning to the DL because of lower back soreness. This is the third consecutive season that back issues have forced Kershaw to the DL. However, this DL stint will shorter than any of his other back-related trips to the DL.
Earlier this week, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts indicated that Kershaw would pitch in a minor league game on Saturday before being activated. Kershaw protested the decision but Roberts said it was for the best. However, that was before Kershaw brought a troubling weather report to the team’s attention. Rain is expected in Omaha, where the Dodgers triple-A affiliate is set to play a road game Saturday night, prompting a change in plans.
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“We’re going to keep him here with us,” Roberts said Friday. “With the weather uncertainty in Omaha, to make his start is probably the best thing for him and for us.”
With Kershaw getting the start, the three-time Cy Young winner will be matched up against Jacob deGrom of the Mets. With a 1.51 ERA through 15 starts, deGrom is a serious contender for the Cy Young this year, despite only being 5-2. His modest record is largely due to New York’s bullpen woes and a lack of run support in deGrom’s starts.
The downside is that Kershaw may not be able to pitch deep enough into the game to give fans a true pitcher’s duel between him and deGrom. Since May 1, Kershaw has thrown just five total innings, so he may not be properly stretched out. There is also a threat of rain in New York on Saturday that could get in the way.
“As I understand it, there’s a potential delay, but we’ll be mindful of it. We’re not going to do anything to put him in harm’s way,” says Roberts. “We feel comfortable and confident.”
In any event, Kershaw returning should provide a huge boost for the Dodgers. Despite his 1-4 record, the lefty has a 2.76 ERA in eight starts this year. He’s very much the ace of the Los Angeles rotation. In addition to Kershaw’s return, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda have also returned from the DL within the past 10 days. With Alex Wood providing stability all season, the Dodgers will have their top four starting pitchers healthy at the same time once Kershaw is activated on Saturday.
After a dreadful start to the season, the Dodgers have finally started to look like the team favored to win the NL West this season. They began Friday 12-5 in the month of June and 2.5 games back of the Diamondbacks atop the NL West. With Kershaw coming back and the Dodgers finally getting their top starters healthy, they are poised to continue their ascent to the top of the division.