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Clayton Kershaw is ‘thankful’ for the chance to compete in a playoff race

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Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

For someone as competitive as Clayton Kershaw, watching Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urías go out and pitch in the hunt for October has meant a lot of impatient waiting. Especially when there is an uncertainty about when and where the return was going to happen.

For Kershaw himself, there were giant question marks while he waited for the inflammation in his left elbow to subside over the last two months. The left-hander was unsure there was enough time to make it back to the Dodgers.

“I’m thankful,” said Kershaw after a successful return Monday night. “I didn’t really know what it was going to look like, honestly, at the end of this season. For me to be able to be a part of it is huge. I will never take that for granted, ever, to be in a playoff race, to be a part of it.”

With a soft target of four innings and 60 pitches, the decision was made in-game for Kershaw to start the fifth inning. Manager Dave Roberts allowed one batter, a line drive out on one pitch. It didn’t matter that the lefty had only gone 50 pitches to that moment in time.

“My pitch count was low obviously,” Kershaw said. “For me, the ups and downs are harder than the pitch count. Sitting down and getting back up for that fifth time was important and maybe I can get through six or something next start.”

The fact that the 33-year-old came out of the game feeling healthy was the most important part of the whole night.

“There’s just no way to simulate a big league game, there’s really not,” said Kershaw. “You can do all the bullpens, all the rehab, all the working out you want but for whatever reason, pitching in a big league game is just different.

I’m glad I got this first one behind me. I’ll have a few more that hopefully I can contribute and we can win this thing.”

In his first start at Dodger Stadium since June, the moment wasn’t lost on Kershaw.

“There’s not a lot of better feelings in the world than getting to pitch here and getting a win,” Kershaw said. “It’s a special thing. I missed it. It was good to be back.”

Dodger Links

Baseball Prospectus has a fun article about Alex Vesia and Phil Bickford.

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