Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to take the mound for his 2020 debut, 10 days later than first expected, as Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced he will start Sunday’s series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers placed Kershaw on the injured list on Opening Day due to back stiffness. He deemed it “defeating” not being able to start a ninth career season opener, but was encouraged by rapid progress made and a negative MRI scan.
Kershaw advanced to throwing a bullpen session at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, then threw another two days later at Chase Field. “Really good, really good,” Roberts said of the side session.
“It was probably 30 or 32 (pitches), the ball was coming out well, used his entire mix. We’re really encouraged.”
The Dodgers waited to see how Kershaw responded to throwing before deciding when to slot him back into the rotation. At minimum, it had been boiled down to Sunday, or the following day for the series opener against the San Diego Padres.
By opting for the former, it pushes Walker Buehler back a day and provides extra rest for all other members in the rotation as well. The Dodgers additionally have an off day approaching on Thursday. “That’s part of it,” Roberts said of the choice to have Kershaw face the Diamondbacks.
“And also Clayton is chomping at the bit to get back and pitch in a Major League game. It just makes sense from every angle.”
While Kershaw’s 2020 debut was delayed, there had been plenty of optimism over his trajectory and health coming out of an offseason in which he was among the multiple Dodgers pitchers to visit Driveline.
Dodgers rotation adding reinforcement
When the Dodgers reported for the start of Spring Training in February, they welcomed the prospect of needing to make difficult decisions with respect to their rotation. However, what once was a surplus of starting pitchers now is just enough.
David Price opting out of the 2020 season created a void that Ross Stripling earned to fill. Kershaw being sidelined pressed Dustin May into starting duty. Then earlier this week L.A. placed Alex Wood on the IL and days later had to recall Tony Gonsolin to fill his spot in the rotation.
Wood remains temporarily shut down as the Dodgers hope it will better promote the recovery from shoulder inflammation.
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