Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw Felt Improvement Despite ‘Grind’ Against Guardians

Although Clayton Kershaw returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation last weekend it was at a reduced capacity as he had yet to build back up to a full workload while going through a rehab process to come off the 10-day injured list.

Friday represented another step for Kershaw, who was forecasted by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to go five innings and 75 pitches against the Cleveland Guardians. Kershaw wound up needing 74 pitches to get through four innings, but he was given an opportunity to complete the fifth.

He wound up retiring the side in order and finishing the night at 81 pitches.

“It was grindy, is the best way I could describe it,” said Kershaw despite only allowing one run. “I think that team is pesky. Doesn’t give them enough credit, but they really make you work. They’re not going to strike out, really put the ball in play and make you make pitches.

“So I felt like I had a lot of traffic on the bases. A lot of guys getting on base, a lot of leadoff hitters getting on base, which is frustrating but also to be able to get out of it with one run is OK.

“Made some pitches when I had to, and things are a little bit better. There’s a few things I got a little bit better from the last start, which is just good. But yeah, overall, I just had to kind of grind through this one a little bit.”

The Guardians put at least one baserunner on in three of Kershaw’s five innings. They scored in the fourth when back-to-back base hits — one being an infield single — put runners at the corners to set up a sacrifice fly that tied the game.

Kershaw allowed five hits and collected four strikeouts against one walk.

“I’m still building that back up, but also just making sure all your pitches are how you want it to be,” he said of trying to find a rhythm after spending more than one month on the IL due to lower back trouble. “So I think after the last one, was just good to get back out there.

“This one I knew what I needed to work on and saw some improvements with that. So with the elevated pitch count the next one and a few more times to make adjustments with my pitches, I feel like I’m getting closer to where I want to be.”

Roberts, Bellinger impressed with Kershaw

Kershaw historically is his toughest critic, and that held true again Friday night.

“Looks the same to me,” Cody Bellinger said. “He knows his arsenal, he’s perfected his arsenal. He just goes out there and competes and to me it always looks good from center field.”

Roberts added of the start: “Very encouraged. To get him through that fifth inning was huge, build up that pitch count. I thought he was fantastic again. So next outing get him up to six-plus, and kind of let him loose.

“But really encouraging and I thought across the board, the pitching, run prevention was fantastic.”

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