What Should Dodgers Expect from Clayton Kershaw on Saturday?

(USA TODAY Sports photo)

Thanks mainly in part to the national weather forecast, the Dodgers will get a much earlier look at staff ace Clayton Kershaw than initially anticipated, setting up a duel with the Mets’ No. 1 arm Jacob deGrom.

Kerhaw was originally slated to pitch for Triple-A Oklahoma City in a rehab start at Omaha, but after learning that the weather in the area was predicting rain, the club determined it would probably be better for Kersh just to remain with the big league squad and throw against the Mets in the second game of the weekend series.

“With the weather uncertainty in Omaha, to keep him here to make his start is probably the best thing for him, and for us,” Roberts said just before Friday’s opener in New York. “We don’t know how much he’s going to pitch. I don’t want to put a limit on him. Obviously there is a limitation with Clayton, and I’ll make that decision.”

Reports earlier in the week indicated that the three-time Cy Young Award winner was expected to throw four innings in his appearance for OKC, and there’s no reason to expect things would be different for the big league club.

Some fans were surprised by the teams decision to let Kersh skip a minor-league rehab start, but it was something that management considered once they learned the ace was indeed ready to compete. Recovering from biceps tendinitis, CK returned to the mound on May 31; however, days after his return he was forced back onto the disabled list with a lower-back strain. Many would think that the team would be cautious to ease Kershaw back into action slowly, but Roberts pointed out that since his activity has been dormant over many weeks, it might make sense to skip any prospective rehab starts.

“You can absolutely make that case and that was our thought,” said Roberts. “When you talk to the player, look at how much he’s pitched the last two months, it hasn’t been a whole lot. To see it in real competition makes a lot of sense.”

Regardless, it could be a huge step forward for the Dodgers, who, with a healthy Kershaw, may be very close to having an optimized starting rotation, especially when considering the recent performances of righty Ross Stripling.

While there was a bit of controversy surrounding Kershaw’s mechanics before both times he landed on the disabled list, the team is confident with the lefty’s health. During his eight starts earlier in the season, he recorded a hard-luck 1-4 record with a 2.76 ERA and a 3.47 FIP alongside 55 punchouts in an even 49 innings of work. He was scrutinized for his fastball velocity in those appearances, which has fallen off considerably when compared to previous seasons. That’s one thing that fans and team officials will be eyeing closely in his return to the bump on Saturday.

“Just the way he’s responded to all the tests and to get him with us, we feel comfortable and confident,” Roberts stated.

It’s still unknown how the team will make room on the active roster for Kershaw in the corresponding move, as it’s believed the club will retain young southpaw Caleb Ferguson for long relief duties should No. 22 falter in the early goings of his start.

In any event, the matchup between Kershaw and deGrom could be a potential ratings booster for Fox Sports, so long as the rain stays away from New York.

First pitch is slated for 4:15 p.m. Los Angeles time.


11 thoughts on “What Should Dodgers Expect from Clayton Kershaw on Saturday?

  1. Dodgers are fooling themselves if they think Kershaw’s past his back issues. I’m gonna keep saying it until somebody up in that front office finally comes down here and reads this: KERSHAW IS DAN HAREN 2.0!!!! Remember Haren’s back problems near the end of his MLB career due to that “hesitation” delivery he was known for? How it sapped his pitches of both velocity and spin rate with each successive season once he hit the age-30 mark? How it physically limited him to back-end rotation duty until he finally wised up and retired for good instead of collecting on what was left on his rather lucrative contract???

    For their own sake (and his, for that matter), Caleb Ferguson better be prepared to come in and piggyback Kershaw at the first sign of trouble later today. In the meantime, pray the Dodgers have enough good sense left to put Manny Banuelos on the 40-man roster (they can swap out Brock Stewart, he’s not going to make a difference until his arm problems are finally addressed and resolved…if THAT happens anytime soon). Banuelos his last two AAA starts has pretty much shaken all the rust off after the past few years of injury-related setbacks. Time for him to come back and show the Dodger brass what an absolute bargain they got when they signed him to that FA minor-league deal this past offseason…

  2. I doubt the front office thinks CK is past his back issues. They are just afraid of making him angry so tend to let him call his own shots. That’s especially true with his ability to opt out this year. For today, he seems ready to pitch so they’re not going to argue with him and they figure they can get a better look at him in NY than in OKC. And they’re ready to have him go down with an injury again at any time. They’ve just decided to live with that uncertainty.
    Banuelos really deserves a shot and I think his absence from the 40-man is the main stumbling block. They should do whatever they have to and overcome that obstacle. I’d rather see Ferguson start at OKC for the rest of the year uninterrupted and have Banuelos take his spot up here.

    1. My thoughts about Kershaw exactly. I still think Banuelos would have been the better choice for the 40-man initially, as he would have been much easier to DFA if he disappointed. Now, Ferguson is stuck on the 40-man.

  3. Old friend Wilmer Font started for the Rays against the Yanks tonight and pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings. Those who followed him to the mound completed the shutout. The obvious conclusion here is that Font’s lack of success here in L.A. was due to National League hitters being far superior to those of the Yankees.

    1. Looked great in the first. After that it was touch and go, but we need to remember it was basically a rehab game for him. Roberts seemed happy with it. Now we need to see how his arm and back feel tomorrow. It was a shame they felt they had to start this Kershaw guy which prevented the real star, Caleb Ferguson, from starting. He was very impressive and seems to be getting better every time out.

      1. Told ya folks on here that Ferguson’s at his best when he’s in a jam (save for his MLB debut against the Pirates earlier on, bet he was thinking about not blowing it in front of family and friends instead of executing his gameplan-lol). Twice he had to deal with a runner at 3B with nobody out and both times he successfully worked his way out of it. His changeup looked much better tonight than it did last time out as well. Too bad Kershaw still has yet to fully develop that pitch because it could’ve easily extended his MLB career if he had one already. Doesn’t matter, Ferguson’s earning his keep right now and should stay up for that reason alone. Impressive pair of stones on that kid, him and Buehler both…

      2. A little early to be thinking about 2019, but stop to consider how things would look if Buehler, Santana, Ferguson and Urias were all healthy. Kershaw (assuming he doesn’t leave), Wood, Hill and Maeda could fight it out for the 5th spot. 🙂

      3. Geez. Forgot about Stripling. OK, we can let Kersh leave and move Wood, Maeda and Hill to the pen.

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