Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw Sees Improvement In 2nd Start Since Coming Off Disabled List
Frank Franklin II-AP Photo

There’s no denying Clayton Kershaw is his own worst critic and is rarely satisfied with his results. But that same drive for perfection is what puts the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace among the greatest who have ever played.

This season has been unlike any other for Kershaw. He spent some time on the disabled list in 2014, but it only amounted to half the time missed when compared to this season. What’s more the severity of a teres major strain doesn’t match that of a mild disc herniation.

Great as Kershaw is, there was expected rust when he made his first Major League start in 75 days. Kershaw was limited to just three innings even though the competitor in him asked for more.

Against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Kershaw resembled more of his usual form. “It was a little better than the last time out,” he said after his first career start at Yankee Stadium. “I had a little better command of the offspeed stuff. Overall, it was a little better.”

Kershaw allowed one hit in five innings, didn’t walk a batter, and finished with five strikeouts. Perhaps more impressively, he survived two rain delays. The first was merely a brief interruption, with play resuming after 12 minutes.

However, 48 minutes elapsed between the top of the fifth inning ending and the bottom half beginning. “We tried to split it up, so I threw an inning down here in between,” Kershaw explained.

“It ended up working out since it wasn’t too long of a rain delay. Maybe a little extended innings, but that was probably a good test for me to make sure I can do that. The pitch count was still in order. It’s a good spring board for the next one.”

Including the simulated frame during the rain delay, Kershaw threw 80 pitches in essentially six innings of work. He threw 66 pitches in his previous outing. The Sept. 9 start was widely viewed as a rehab assignment for the three-time Cy Young Award winner.

To everyone but Kershaw, that is. “It was pretty much the same [intensity] both times. I was obviously thankful to be back the first time, but I wasn’t thinking about that. Once you start pitching, you’re pitching,” he said Wednesday.

“You’re trying to get guys out, and if you don’t do that effectively you need to look at it. So I did that. Maybe it was (being) back on a normal routine, or whatever my normal is now. Maybe that helped a little bit, I don’t know.”

Next for Kershaw is a start Monday against the San Francisco Giants. He’s expected to duel with Madison Bumgarner, who is 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers this season.