So much for the committee: Gardenhire picks Jon Rauch as closer

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Earlier this week Ron Gardenhire announced that the Twins would use a closer-by-committee approach to replace Joe Nathan initially, but the manager has apparently already changed his mind.
Gardenhire said this afternoon that Jon Rauch will begin the season at closer, which is actually what I was expecting all along until the closer-by-committee curveball. Rauch is certainly not an ideal closer, but neither is anyone else on the Twins’ roster and in the short term at least he’s the most sensible option.
Rauch has some previous experience in the role, has generally been a solid, durable seventh- and eighth-inning option, and allows Matt Guerrier to remain in his familiar setup role. At some point this season perhaps Jose Mijares or Pat Neshek will emerge as ninth-inning options, but for now giving Rauch a shot to be a league-average closer and convert 80-85 percent of his save opportunities makes sense.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.