“My boyfriend’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble.
(Hey, la-di-la, my boyfriend’s back.)
When you see him comin’, better cut on the double.
(Hey, la-di-la, my boyfriend’s back.)”
Finally, the day we have all been waiting for is here — Clayton Kershaw is returning to the Dodgers‘ rotation. 75 longs days of having baseball games without the best pitcher on the planet. 75 days where the Dodgers could have caught the San Francisco Giants in the National League West, instead of laboring so far behind without their ace. In the words of John Kruk, “Without Kershaw, they’re done”
Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s not what happened. What did happen was that the Dodgers put on their big boy pants, and doubled their efforts, and turned an eight game deficit into a five game lead. They went 38-24, second best in the majors to only the Chicago Cubs in that time span. Sure, it took a gazillion different pitchers to make up for the loss of Kershaw. Ok, maybe not a gazillion. But the Dodgers did use 11 different starting pitchers in the time that Kershaw was on the DL. Five of those pitchers are now either on the DL or rehabbing. As has been the theme of the year, they were there to fill in for the time that they could.
In fact, the Dodgers did so well without Kershaw, that there are some people out there who feel that the Dodgers should just shut down Kershaw for the rest of the season. I suppose I could see someone not wanting Clayton to get injured worse, but this is just an asinine idea.
And it seems so long since all we were worried about with Kershaw was whether he could maintain that insane strikeout to walk ratio throughout the rest of the season. Even with the three months of not pitching, some are thinking he could still be in the running for the Cy Young Award. At the point of Kershaw’s injury, he was 11-2, with a 1.79 ERA, 145 strikeouts, a 16.1 strikeout to walk ratio, and a 0.73 WHIP. It’s quite possible that Kershaw doesn’t pick up where he left off. But if he does, why should he not still be in the conversation? It would just go to show that he is the most dominant pitcher, regardless of injuries and missing time.
I think the biggest thing tonight is for us all to be tempered in our expectations in what Kershaw can accomplish. He will be on a limited pitch count, and we all know Dave Roberts‘ propensity for pulling starting pitchers out too early. The absolute worst thing that could happen is that Kershaw pushes himself too far too soon, and then we are left without him for the postseason. I’m hoping for a nice five to six inning outing and he leaves the game with the lead. Facing Jose Fernandez and the Marlins, though, may not be the easiest thing to accomplish. But I’m willing to bet that the rest of the team is as jacked to have Kershaw back as the fan base is, and they will continue their grinding and get Kershaw his first win since June.