Clayton Kershaw is back. He’ll take the mound for the Dodgers tonight. It’ll be the first time Kershaw has thrown a pitch in anger since June 26, in Pittsburgh.
When Kershaw went down the Dodgers were eight games behind the Giants, with a record of 41-36. Since then they’ve gone 38-24 and now find themselves thirteen games better in the standings, five up on those same Giants. This is not some Ewing Theory situation, of course — the Giants sucking eggs has had a whole lot to do with the Dodgers ascending — but the Dodgers being able to do what they’ve done without baseball’s best pitcher is pretty dang astounding. It’s mostly a function of the bullpen pitching fantastically, the offense taking a big leap forward and the rotation turning into an 11-man behemoth that, while not world-beating, has been far better than you’d think a cast its size would be.
Which is to say that getting a guy who went 11-2 with a 1.79 ERA and 145 strikeouts against only 9 unintentional walks in 121 innings is a good thing, regardless of how the club did without him. The only question now is what kind of stamina Kershaw has. He missed a lot of time and only threw three innings in his lone minor league rehab start. Sure, he struck out five guys in those three innings, but it wasn’t exactly the toughest competition.
He’ll be tested tonight, going head-to-head against Jose Fernandez and the Marlins at 7:10pm eastern in Miami. Definitely a game you should plan on watching if you have the ability.