Clayton Kershaw made his much anticipated return to the Dodgers rotation today, and basically everybody wrote about it. Unfortunately, the hype was killed rather early by reality, and Kershaw ended up basically making a rehab start at the major-league level. Not that it would’ve mattered much, because the Dodgers were dominated by Jose Fernandez, and thus a 4-1 loss to the Marlins snapped the Dodgers five-game winning streak.
On the upside, it allows me to me infinite #ShouldOf jokes and helps me talk about how Kershaw is obviously ruining the team chemistry. On the downside, we have to get Don Mattingly‘s record against the Dodgers cited over and over.
As mentioned, Kershaw only lasted three innings, basically throwing a rehab start that lasted 66 pitches. He gave up five hits, including a homer, for two runs, but walked none and struck out five batters. Most importantly, Kershaw did somehow look relatively healthy. He sat comfortably in the 92-94 mph range with his fastball, which is about normal, and when he did break off his slider and curve they also looked like the world-beating pitches they should be. The problem then was the frequency with which his off-speed stuff was sharp and the command of the pitches, as Kershaw was burned on both runs by hanging breaking balls.
All that said, a little rust was expected and a rehab start in the majors wasn’t the worst idea given the now gigantic bullpen due to expanded rosters. On paper the pitching matchup was a doozy, but in reality, the best pitcher on the planet was still gradually working his way back against improved competition to see how he would hold up.
The bullpen was thus required to do a lot of work, and Louis Coleman, Bud Norris, J.P. Howell, Josh Fields, Luis Avilan, Josh Ravin, and Adam Liberatore combined to pitch five innings. The group gave up just three hits and two walks as a group, but they did surrender two runs thanks to Norris, who continues to look like he has no business pitching in the majors at the moment.
Nevertheless, all the hand-wringing about the pitching is sorta meaningless when one doesn’t hit. While the Dodgers had some scoring chances early, Fernandez allowed only three hits and a three walks in his seven innings, striking out a whopping 14 Dodgers.
On the day, the offense had only seven hits (homer, double) and three walks, but even that doesn’t tell the story since three of those hits (including a Yasmani Grandal dinger) came off Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning. The team was shutout against non-Rodney pitchers, and the late comeback attempt fell short.
Still, the game will end up a win if Kershaw comes out of it healthy … or just because of this.
The loss drops the Dodgers 79-61 overall, and 32-34 away from home, which actually has me sort of concerned. The Giants are currently playing against the Diamondbacks, so for now the NL West lead for the Dodgers is down to 4.5 games.
The Dodgers will get the Marlins again tomorrow night at 1:10 PM HST/4:10 PM PST/7:10 PM EST. The pitchers on the mound will be Rich Hill (1.94 ERA/2.43 FIP/2.80 DRA Overall, 0.00 ERA/1.84 FIP Dodgers) against Tom Koehler (3.87 ERA/4.16 FIP/5.67 DRA).