Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw Throws 4-Inning Simulated Game, Scheduled For Rehab Start With Triple-A Oklahoma City
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Clayton Kershaw took another step toward his return from a lower back strain by throwing a four-inning simulated game at PNC Park on Monday afternoon. Multiple reports indicated he faced Kiké Hernandez, Chase Utley and Dodgers hitting coach Turner Ward.

Kershaw was initially scheduled to only throw three innings, which allows for the extra work to be interpreted as further indication the left-handed ace is fully recovered from the back trouble that’s sidelined him since July 24.

Since being cleared to resume throwing, Kershaw steadily increased his level of activity. Monday’s simulated game was the second he’s thrown while on the disabled list.

Having cleared another hurdle, thee three-time Cy Young Award winner will now make a rehab start with Triple-A Oklahoma City, per David Vassegh of AM 570 L.A. Sports Radio:

The Triple-A start will be the first of Kershaw’s career. He threw three innings in a rehab outing with the High-A Rancho Cucamonga last season while recovering from a herniated disc. He started for the Dodgers six days later and ultimately missed 10 weeks.

Assuming the same rough timeline holds true, Kershaw could be activated and start for the Dodgers next Thursday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, or the following day in the series opener against the San Diego Padres. Both games are on the road.

Holding Kershaw until Sept. 1 would allow for some flexibility, as that’s the first day active rosters expand. What’s more, the series with the Padres calls for a doubleheader on Saturday, Sept. 2, which puts the Dodgers in need of an extra starter during that stretch.

Whether next Thursday or Friday, the 29-year-old will have missed just under six weeks due to the back injury. That will leave Kershaw with an opportunity to make roughly five starts in preparation for the playoffs, which was his targeted goal.