Clayton Kershaw maxes out at 90 MPH in return from disabled list, will have MRI on back

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw returned from the 10-day disabled list to start against the Phillies at home on Thursday, having missed almost all of the month of May with left biceps tendinitis. He went five innings, giving up a lone run on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts on 62 pitches.

It was an abbreviated outing by Kershaw’s standards, as he almost always throws 90-plus pitches, but it was understandable given that it was his first start back after nearly a month off. There may be more to the story, though, and it may not be good. Kershaw’s fastball topped out at 90 MPH on Thursday. He threw 28 four-seam fastballs which averaged just over 88 MPH, below his 2018 average of 91 MPH as well as his 2017 average of 92.7 MPH.

Kershaw struck out the side in his final inning, but his pitch selection was telling: of the 11 pitches he threw, only one was a fastball. He struck Jorge Alfaro out on three consecutive sliders. He went change-up, curve, slider to Aaron Nola. To finish out the inning, he went slider, slider, curve, fastball, change-up to Cesar Hernandez.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that Kershaw’s back tightened up during the game. He will undergo an MRI and will not travel with the team to open a six-game road trip, three of which will be against the Rockies at Coors Field.

Back issues are nothing new for Kershaw, but it has to be concerning for the Dodgers that it’s seemingly been one health problem after another for Kershaw in recent years. And for Kershaw, one wonders if the injury woes may make him hesitate to opt out of his contract after the season. If Kershaw doesn’t opt out, he’ll be under contract with the Dodgers in 2019-20 for a combined $65 million.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.