The last prognosis we heard regarding Chase Utley was that it would be eight weeks before he could make it back to the Phillies’ lineup. Todd Zolecki is tweeting, however, that Utley is planning on coming back sooner than that, saying that it will take five weeks to heal, one week to get his mobility back and then it’s go-time.
I’m sure he can do it if he sets his mind to it because he’s Chase Utley and that’s just how he’s wired. But there’s a big difference between being tough enough and determined enough to start playing baseball sooner than people thought you could and actually playing baseball at a high level within that time frame.
Put differently: someone who is not as emotionally involved in Chase Utley’s comeback needs to determine whether a 60-75% effective Chase Utley is preferable to a 100% Wilson Valedez or whatever.
Wait, I’m even asking that?
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.