Clayton Kershaw is back to start the finale of the Dodgers homestand against the Phillies on Thursday, bookending his May by starting the first and last days of the month with nothing in between.
Left biceps tendonitis was the culprit this time for Kershaw, who was on the disabled list for a third consecutive season and fourth time in the last five years.
The Dodgers were 14-12 in Kershaw’s absence, which compared to their 12-17 start was quite an improvement. Amazingly the Dodgers did fantastically while missing their ace in the previous two seasons, going 38-24 (.613) in 2016 and 23-10 (.697) in 2017.
Dodgers starters without Kershaw
Kershaw’s last start was on May 1, and Dodgers starting pitchers did just fine to pick up the slack in his absence, which is more impressive because Hyun-jin Ryu went down on May 2 with (and this can’t be stated enough) a groin muscle that tore off his bone.
Sans Kershaw in May Dodgers starting pitchers had a 2.99 ERA with 156 strikeouts and 34 walks. Removing the three injury-shortened outings (Ryu 1⅓ innings on May 2, Rich Hill zero innings and two pitches on May 19, and Kenta Maeda 1⅔ innings on May 29) Dodgers starters since Kershaw left averaged 5.67 innings per start, above the National League average of 5.42 innings this season.
Kershaw’s return comes at just the right time, with Maeda now on the DL and Hill still sidelined as well.
Thursday will be Kershaw’s 300th game in his career, the 23rd pitcher to appear in that many games for the Dodgers. Two times in the regular season he has pitched in relief, so this will be his 298th start. Only nine pitchers have started 300 games for the Dodgers, with Orel Hershiser next on the list in ninth place with 309 starts.
Time: 4:35 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network