Los Angeles Dodgers fans, your ace has finally returned.
Clayton Kershaw will finally make his 2019 debut on Monday, taking the mound for the opening game of the Dodgers’ three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. And the Dodgers’ Twitter account was just as excited about the news as most fans — or maybe just excited at the thought of a possible showdown between Kershaw and his former teammate Yasiel Puig.
Kershaw, 31, has been sidelined since late February with left shoulder inflammation. He missed the entirety of spring training, but began throwing simulated innings before the Dodgers had played their first game of the season. He allowed two runs in each of his two rehab starts, and pitched six full innings in his final outing.
The Dodgers haven’t been completely bereft without him. They have an 8-5 record and are tied for first place in the National League West. Their pitching has been middling compared to other clubs, but the offense has been there to pick them up. The Dodgers are hitting .281/.383/.525 as a team, one of the best triple slashes in baseball, and are leading all of MLB in walks. A productive offense would be very helpful to Kershaw as he finds his rhythm on the mound again.
Kershaw has been dominating hitters for a decade now, and has a 2.39 ERA over 218 career games and 2,096.1 innings pitched. But he’s had injury issues for the past three seasons, missing varying amounts of time for back problems and biceps tendinitis.
Shoulder issues for pitchers can be slow to heal, so that Kershaw will only miss a few weeks is great news for the Dodgers. The injury did cause Kershaw’s eight-year streak of opening day starts to end, but that’s a small price to pay for a healthy ace.
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