Matt Kemp described his injured hamstring as being 85 percent healed and told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that he expects to return from the disabled list when eligible on May 29.
Before that happens he’ll need to avoid a setback while on a brief minor-league rehab assignment, which likely won’t begin until next weekend. And if all goes well he’d be back in the Dodgers’ lineup next Tuesday against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium.
So far the Dodgers have gone 6-2 without Kemp, which is remarkable considering how much of their offense came from the slugging center fielder before the injury. Also remarkable is that Kemp hasn’t played since May 13 and yet still ranks second in homers, third in runs, and fifth in total bases among all NL hitters despite missing 20 percent of the season.
Justin Verlander is approaching the tail end of a fantastic year with the Astros — arguably one of his best in the last decade — and on Saturday, he kicked off his last regular season start at Minute Maid Park with a strikeout, his 270th of the year. While that’s still a few shy of Max Scherzer‘s league-best mark of 290, it was a new personal record for Verlander, who had yet to beat the previous career record he set with 269 strikeouts in 2009.
Verlander’s moment arrived at the top of the first inning on a seven-pitch called strikeout against the Angels’ Kole Calhoun. Cole worked a 2-2 count, then fouled off a pair of 95-MPH fastballs before missing the seventh and final pitch at the top of the strike zone.
Jose Fernandez battled twice as long in the next at-bat, albeit with far more disastrous results. His 14-pitch duel against the Astros’ righty ended when he caught a fastball on his hand and was forced to come out of the game.
After expending a total of 27 pitches in the first inning, however, Verlander returned in the second to strike out the side, then logged another pair of strikeouts in the third. With six strikeouts through three innings, he boosted his season strikeout total to 275 — just a hair above fellow Houston righty Gerrit Cole (and all other AL pitchers), who previously led the team with 272 whiffs on the year.