Clayton Kershaw has made his return from injury. Friday night saw the three-time Cy Young award winner of the Los Angeles Dodgers returned from a lengthy stay on the disabled list in a start against the Miami Marlins. Kershaw came back for his first start on a very limited pitch count and ended up going three innings while allowing two runs on five hits against the Marlins. He threw 66 pitches before being pinch hit for.
In his short stint in Miami, Kershaw gave up a home run to JT Realmuto in the first inning and then allowed Jeff Francoeur to single home a run in the second. So while the base numbers may not have been vintage Kershaw, the big lefty showed plenty of signs that the real Kershaw is not too far behind.
Let’s start with the strike to ball ratio. Of the 66 pitches thrown, 46 of them went for strikes. That means 70 percent of his pitches were over the plate or had batter swinging. As a result, Kershaw did not allow a single result during the start. He paired that with five strikeouts, meaning some of those strikes went for swings and misses.
To add on to that point of throwing strikes, of the 14 batters he faced, 11 of them Kershaw threw a first pitch strike. It is classic Kershaw to get ahead of batters, and it makes him the special pitcher he is. Getting ahead of batters lets him set them up for a nasty slider or curve when he has two strikes, resulting in the strikeouts Kershaw is known to pile up.
Let’s also take a closer look at those outs Kershaw did get. Having pitched three innings, he recorded nine putouts. We already know five of those were punch-outs. That is over half of the outs he recorded. Had he gone seven innings in a normal start, he had the stuff to record double-digit strikeouts. Of the remaining four outs, three of them came on the ground, and one in the air. It is always a good sign when a pitcher is getting ground outs and not fly balls.
This had been Kershaw’s first start in the big leagues since June 26th, thanks to a back injury. Coming back and producing that many strikes and strikeouts is an extremely positive sign. He only had one minor league rehab start as well, and he produced five K’s in the three innings he threw at Rancho Cucamonga.
So while Clayton was still not back into the classic form we have seen win an MVP, three Cy Youngs and go to six All-Star Games, the signs are there that he is on track. The Dodgers are on track to make the postseason, leading the NL West over the San Francisco Giants. So it is extremely important for the club to have a fully healthy Kershaw as they gear up for October baseball.
His mechanics looked fine; his stuff was producing strikeouts, and he was throwing strikes. So at the end of the day, the Dodgers should not worry about their ace. Clayton Kershaw is going to have a month to work out any kinks he may have coming back from a back injury. When the playoffs arrive, Clayton Kershaw is poised to be back to the Clayton Kershaw we all know and love.
So have no fear Dodgers fans, Kershaw is set to be the same stud we have grown to love over the course of the seasons’ last month.