The moment fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers waited nearly 10 weeks for finally arrived on Friday night. Clayton Kershaw, who’s been sidelined since June 26 with a back injury, finally returned to a major-league mound against the Miami Marlins.
Kershaw made up one-half of a marquee pitching matchup against Marlins ace Jose Fernandez. He fared OK, allowing two runs on five hits over three innings. That included a first-inning home run from Miami’s J.T. Realmuto. Some rust was obviously expected, as was an abbreviated outing that saw Kershaw throw only 66 pitches. The results weren’t as important though as the condition of his back, which was tested and appeared to hold up just fine.
Just the fact that Kershaw returned is a big deal for Los Angeles. There were times throughout his recovery when the team acknowledged his season might be over. Kershaw’s determination never wavered, and now he’s back and he’s looking to contribute to a critical stretch run.
Here’s an interesting twist to the story. With Kershaw returning, the Dodgers had to free up a spot on the 40-man roster. That was done by recalling reliever Carlos Frias from Triple-A and placing him on the 60-day disabled list. It was strictly a procedural move, as Frias was already on the disabled list at Triple-A. However, in doing so, Frias became the 28th different player to hit the Dodgers disabled list this season, which set a record no team wants to lay claim to.
The Dodgers say they have set a major-league record by putting 28 players on the disabled list. Champagne for all.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) September 9, 2016
That the Dodgers hold a five-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the NL West is a sign of remarkable resilience. They’ve essentially lost every key player for at least one extended stretch this season, including other starting pitchers like Brett Anderson, Rich Hill, Scott Kazmir, Bud Norris, Alex Wood, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Brandon McCarthy, yet they’ve never folded.
The moment most expected them to fold was when Kershaw went down. However, they’ve managed to go from eight games behind San Francisco to five games up during his absence. That success is truly mind-boggling , but rather than question it or doubt it, it’s time to accept the Dodgers are sticking around. Now that Kershaw is back, they may be here to stay for good.
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