Would-be Astros closer Jesse Crain still isn’t near a return


Jesse Crain hasn’t thrown a pitch in a game since June 29 and it doesn’t look like that will be changing any time soon.

Crain continues to experience setbacks attempting to return from a shoulder injury that cost him the entire second half of last season and left the Rays with nothing to show for acquiring him from the White Sox. He signed with the Astros following biceps surgery this offseason with an eye on becoming their closer and hitting the open market again next winter, but Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that Crain hasn’t even been able to pitch in extended spring training games yet.

Late next month seems like the best-case scenario at this point.

Clayton Kershaw completes spring training with a 0.00 ERA

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Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.

In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.

The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.

The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.