Clayton Kershaw has one career start on June 23, and it was one of his oddest. As his first start off the disabled list, this was essentially a major league rehab start.
The Dodgers were in New York to face the Mets on June 23, 2018, five days after Kershaw threw three simulated innings while rehabbing his lower back strain. Kershaw missed over four weeks in May with biceps tendonitis, and was on the shelf for three weeks before returning for this start, which was just his second appearance in 53 days.
Rather than go on a minor league rehab assignment, the Dodgers opted for Kershaw to pitch an abbreviated major league outing in his return. From my game recap:
The plan had been for around 60 pitches and four innings but manager Dave Roberts was going to make that decision in-game. Kershaw was at 55 pitches through three innings so there was no sense in throwing him out there for another inning when he wasn’t going to finish it.
27 of the 55 pitches for Kershaw were fastballs, with 17 at 91 and 92-mph. That’s an improvement from the last time out when the Dodger lefty was sitting in the high-80s, topping out at 90.
As for the start itself, Kershaw was rusty. He allowed two doubles in the second for one run, and three singles — including one by pitcher Jacob deGrom — for another run in the third.
The Dodgers grabbed the lead by the fourth inning, and expanded on it later while Caleb Ferguson followed Kershaw with four scoreless innings in relief, giving the Dodgers an 8-3 win. It was Ferguson’s first major league win.
The outing: 3 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Up next: A three-start day, running the Jorge De La Rosa gauntlet