All the concern and worry over Clayton Kershaw‘s injury is understandable given what a blow it would be to the Dodgers if he were to have a setback and miss even more significant time. And with fans already up in arms about the team’s performance to date*, the last thing fans needed was more bad news.
*I get it, really, I do. But the way they’ve lost has made everything feel worse than it actually is. Consider that the defending champion Red Sox are currently the eighth-worst team in baseball before we declare the season over.
Fortunately then, Kershaw’s rehab start with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes seemed to go swimmingly.
Kershaw looked sharp and reported no pain. He has been sidelined with an upper back injury after pitching against Arizona in the Opening Series in Australia.
“I felt good and felt healthy,” said the 6-foot-3 Kershaw, who has had the lowest ERA in the National League for the past three seasons.
Kershaw limited the opposition to two hits in five innings over just 56 pitches, striking out six and walking one. The lone run he allowed came on a solo homer to Carlos Perdomo, who was probably the most pumped high-A player ever.
The next step is how Kershaw feels tomorrow, but he doesn’t anticipate any problems, and the bigger issue is what the next step will be.
“I don’t have any pain now and don’t anticipate any problems in the morning,” said Kershaw.
The next stop for Kershaw has not been determined. Before the Dodgers’ game against Colorado, manager Don Mattingly said he would like to have Kershaw throw one more rehab start. Asked where he thought he would pitch next week, Kershaw offered no opinions.
“I’m not going to answer that question,” Kershaw said. “I don’t know what the plans are.”
All jokes about him not being able to help unless he can hit aside, having him in the rotation every fifth day would put me at far more ease when compared to, say, Paul Maholm. That much is for sure.
But how quickly can he get here?
Given that he was limited to about 55 pitches today, I’m guessing they want him to make at least two more rehab starts where he can build his pitch count to about 75 before increasing to 90 or so. That would be a cautious approach, but better safe than sorry with a player that was just handed in excess of $200 million.
Sticking with that plan would setup a return around May 12 at home against the Marlins. On the other hand, if Kershaw only takes one more rehab start, then he could make it back for Maholm’s next start on May 7 at the Nationals. But honestly, the best option is whatever option that gets him back in a Dodger uniform healthy, not whichever path is the quickest.