Darren Oliver leaning toward playing next season at age 41

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Darren Oliver is 41 years old and a free agent, but the left-handed reliever is leaning toward coming back for a 19th season.

“After what happened this year, that leaves a bad taste in my mouth,” Oliver told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. “I don’t think I want it to end like that.”

Oliver also has plenty of gas left in the tank, posting ERAs of 2.29, 2.48, 2.71, and 2.88 during the past four seasons. He’s quietly been one of the best middle relievers in baseball following a mediocre career as a starter.

That includes a 44/11 K/BB ratio and .236 opponents’ batting average in 51 innings for the Rangers this season and Oliver made it clear that he’d like to re-sign with Texas.

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.