This is why they did it: wild card game ratings high

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People like me (i.e. fans of the team that lost the wild card playoff) can whine all we want about how baseball is poorly-suited for a one-game playoff, but it’s pretty academic when Major League Baseball issues press releases like this:

Through its first two days of coverage, TBS is averaging 3.9 million viewers, up +26% over last year’s first two days of Postseason coverage. The two Wild Card Games averaged more than 4.6 million viewers, up +61% over last year’s first day of coverage and also exceeded the average 4.2 million viewers for the entire 19-game 2011 Division Series.

I’m assuming there won’t be too much crowing about the third day of the playoffs in which the first two games were opposite afternoon NFL action and the Yankees game — likely slotted at 6PM to avoid going head-to-head against Sunday Night Football — was forced to go head-to-head against Sunday night football thanks to the rain delay.

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.