Preview: Clayton Kershaw Returns In Battle Against Jose Fernandez, Marlins
Clayton Kershaw
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

Clayton Kershaw makes his ballyhooed return Friday night as the Los Angeles Dodgers open a 10-game road trip against the Miami Marlins. The Dodgers enter play riding a five-game winning streak and leading the National League West by five games.

Miami has lost five of their last seven games, and are on the outside looking in at the Wild Card picture. They received a shot in the arm earlier this week when Giancarlo Stanton was activated from the disabled list, though he’s limited to pinch-hit duty for now.

The weekend series is the second and last of the regular season between the Dodgers and Marlins. Miami swept a four-game set back in April, which was Don Mattingly’s first return to Dodger Stadium.

However, excitement surrounding the Marlins’ victories was quickly washed away as Dee Gordon was handed an 80-game suspension for a positive test for performance enhancing drugs, immediately following the series finale.

Gordon is batting .245/.296/.293 with three doubles, two triples and 11 RBIs in 38 games (34 starts) since returning. He went 2-for-4 with one double off Kershaw during the April series.

Friday’s start is Kershaw’s first in the Majors in 75 days. Kershaw concluded his recovery from a mild disc herniation by throwing three innings in a rehab start with High-A Rancho Cucamonga. He enters 11-2 with a 1.79 ERA, 1.67 FIP and 0.73 WHIP this season.

Kershaw is 5-3 lifetime against the Marlins, with a 2.40 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. He was cruising during an April 26 start, until the sixth inning. Miami strung together three straight hits, capped off by a Stanton three-run homer, to hand Kershaw his first loss of the season.

He’s allowed just five runs (three earned) and collected 22 strikeouts to four walks in 21.1 innings pitched over three career starts at Marlins Park. Kershaw is part of a marquee matchup in the series opener as he’s opposed by fellow ace Jose Fernandez.

The 24-year-old right-hander has been dominant at home throughout his career, going 27-2 with a 1.57 ERA. Fernandez is 10-2 with a 1.91 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 14 starts at Marlins Park this season.

Overall in 2016, he enters 13-8 with a 3.03 ERA, 2.36 FIP and 1.17 WHIP. Fernandez has fared well against the Dodgers, posting a 3-0 mark and 2.88 ERA in four career starts. He allowed just two runs on six hits and had eight strikeouts over six innings when he faced Los Angeles earlier this season.

Fernandez is coming off a loss, as he allowed seven runs (six earned) on 12 hits in just 5.2 innings pitched. The six earned runs tied a season high, and Fernandez has lost four of his last six starts.

The Dodgers are averaging six runs per game during their current winning streak. Los
Angeles is 8-5 at Marlins Park since the stadium opened in 2012.

Dodgers lineup:

2B: Chase Utley
SS: Corey Seager
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
C: Yasmani Grandal
RF: Josh Reddick
CF: Joc Pederson
LF: Andrew Toles
P: Clayton Kershaw

Marlins lineup:

2B: Dee Gordon
C: J.T. Realmuto
3B: Martin Prado
CF: Christian Yelich
RF: Marcell Ozuna
LF: Jeff Francoeur
1B: Chris Johnson
SS: Adeiny Hechavarria
P: Jose Fernandez