Clayton Kershaw returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation last Thursday after missing the past six weeks on the 15-day injured list due to left shoulder inflammation and helped lead the club to a 2-1 victory.
Kershaw had last appeared in a game on June 27 when he asked to be removed early from his outing. The 35-year-old hoped to remain on the active roster, but the Dodgers decided to place him on the IL on July 3.
The Dodgers retained optimism that Kershaw would return after the All-Star break, but that was ruled out after he underwent an MRI on his shoulder and Dr. Neal ElAttrache recommended more time for rest.
As Kershaw returned, he had an effective outing against the Colorado Rockies, going five innings while giving up one run on three hits with four strikeouts.
“It was good to get through five,” he said. “I only did four up-downs in my live, so to get through five is probably good. Pitch count is not as important as the sitting and going back out there for another inning.
“So to get through five is good. Hopefully the leash keeps getting lengthened as I go and I get back to a normal pitch count soon.”
Kershaw also debuted a new pitch, throwing a split-changeup four times, recording one whiff and one called strikeout with it. The lone home run he allowed appeared to also come off a changeup, but pitch tracking classified it as a slider with the spin rate registering closer to his breaking ball.
“They just had some guys where a changeup is a good pitch,” Kershaw explained of the changeup. “So I kind of talked about it with Barnesy before the game a little bit and said, ‘Might as well. Why not give it a shot?’
“I threw four of them, and three of them were actually OK. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll try to use it four or five times a game.”
It was a solid outing overall for Kershaw, who threw 67 pitches before exiting. The focus turned to how he would recover and it didn’t prove to be an issue. Kershaw’s next start is Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Clayton Kershaw explains decision for no rehab assignment
Although Kershaw was out for more than a month, he did not end up going on a rehab assignment as most pitchers do before they are activated. “Rehab is only to good to get healthy,” Kershaw said.
“It’s not a good indicator of performance. Guys go down there and, ‘Ah, I wasn’t the same.’ It’s not a relevant situation. I think pitching in the big leagues is its own animal regardless. It’s good and bad.
“Obviously the performance and skill level is a lot better here, but at the same time you’re level gets elevated too. Pitching in sim games is to make sure you’re healthy. If you don’t like your stuff, go figure it out in a game. That’s my thought behind all of rehab. You figure it out while out there. Once you get healthy, you go pitch.”
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