Clayton Kershaw picked up his 20th win of the season this afternoon, reaching that (once-) magic number for the second time in his career and first time since he went 21-5 in 2011.
He wasn’t sharp against the Cubs, allowing three runs while lasting only five innings, but the Dodgers staked him to a 6-0 lead before he even took the mound and scored a total of 14 runs.
Despite spending all of April on the disabled list Kershaw is MLB’s first 20-game winner this season and his ERA now stands at 1.80. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is 218-to-31 in 190.1 innings.
Los Angeles is 22-4 with Kershaw on the mound this season and the Dodgers are now three full games ahead of the Giants in the NL West, pending tonight’s action.
Ryan Zimmerman, who’s been out since mid-July with a hamstring injury, is expected to come off the disabled list Saturday and rejoin the Nationals.
That report comes from Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, who says Zimmerman played seven innings of intrasquad ball at the Nationals’ spring training complex today.
Nationals manager Matt Williams told Zuckerman that Zimmerman “has passed every test with flying colors” while rehabbing, although it’s still unclear what role he’ll fill upon returning.
Zimmerman has played just 53 games this season, yet despite chronic shoulder problems he hit .282 with five homers and an .802 OPS that’s right around his career norms.
Paul Konerko vowed to return from a broken bone in his left hand whether it was healed or not, refusing to end his career on the bench, and sure enough he’s in the White Sox’s starting lineup for tonight’s game against the Rays.
Konerko injured his hand on September 2, but as a 38-year-old in his 18th and final season there’s no risk of the injury hurting his long-term performance and the White Sox are comfortable enough with his status that they’re batting him sixth.
Moved into a part-time role for the first time, Konerko has hit just .220 with five homers and a .616 OPS in 74 games.
Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz revealed that he injured his left shoulder during spring training and has played through the injury for the entire season, telling Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that the pain has gotten progressively worse.
Ruiz apparently suffered the injury while lifting weights in March and Salisbury writes that it bothers him “on certain swings and occasionally when he receives a pitch in a certain location.”
It hasn’t really shown much in his numbers, which include a .258 batting average and .730 OPS that are slightly off from his career numbers but are actually better than what you’d normally expect from a 35-year-old’s decline phase anyway. He has, however, slumped recently.
Ruiz plans to see doctors after the season to determine if he needs surgery. He has two years remaining on a three-year, $26 million contract.
Kevin Gauzman has been fantastic for the Orioles, posting a 3.57 ERA with just five homers allowed in 18 starts as a 23-year-old rookie, including a 3.26 ERA and 78/35 K/BB ratio in 99 innings since his rough season debut.
And yet tonight against the Red Sox he might be pitching to determine his postseason role, as Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com indicates that the Orioles haven’t decided if Gausman will start or relieve in the playoffs.
Gausman has been exclusively a starter in the minors and majors this season, but he did make 15 appearances out of the Orioles’ bullpen last year while racking up 29 strikeouts in 23 innings as a reliever.
Gausman is probably at worst the Orioles’ third-best starter and there’s certainly an argument to be made that he’s their best starter, but Baltimore does have four other decent rotation options (basically everyone except for Ubaldo Jimenez) and they may think Gausman can make a huge late-inning impact if going for an inning or two at a time allows him to throw even harder than his average of 94.8 miles per hour as a starter.