The Dodgers activated Clayton Kershaw off the injured list to start Thursday night against the Rockies, his first game in 44 days.
Kershaw was sidelined with shoulder soreness for more than six weeks, after leaving his June 27 start against these Rockies at Coors Field after only 79 pitches and six scoreless innings. In the 35 games in between starts, Dodgers starting pitchers had a 5.14 ERA, though the peripheral numbers were pretty much in line with the rest of the season.
The Dodgers won 23 of those 35 games, buoyed by an offense that averaged over six and a half runs per game.
Kershaw has been the Dodgers’ best pitcher this season, with a 2.55 ERA in 16 starts, with 105 strikeouts and 24 walks in 95⅓ innings. He no longer has the requisite innings to qualify, but when Kershaw landed on the injured list he ranked third in the National League in ERA, fifth in strikeout rate (27.7 percent), ninth in FIP (3.52), tied for seventh in fWAR (2.3), and tied for the league lead in wins (10).
Despite missing six weeks, Kershaw still leads the Dodgers in innings pitched, strikeouts, and wins.
After a historically bad July, Dodgers starting pitchers in August are on a hot streak. This month, the rotation has a 2.40 ERA in nine games, including Lance Lynn winning his first two starts with his new team and Dodgers starting pitchers lasting six innings in each of the last four games.
Considering that Kershaw’s two simulated games in preparation for his return were three and four innings, respectively, it’s unlikely he keeps up the six-inning streak on Thursday. But his return adds stability to the rotation.
To make room on the roster for Kershaw, Victor González was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. González was recalled on Tuesday as a fresh arm in the bullpen, replacing fellow left-hander Bryan Hudson for the series in Arizona.
González in 25 games in the majors this season has a 5.32 ERA and 4.00 xERA, with 22 strikeouts and seven walks in 23⅔ innings.