Clayton Kershaw, the longtime Los Angeles Dodgers ace, returned from the injured list on Thursday night against the Colorado Rockies (GameTracker) in his first start since late June. Kershaw surrendered just one run on three hits over five innings, with that coming on a solo home run. He struck out four batters and walked none, and his fastball velocity clocked in at 90.7 mph -- or, about a half mile below his seasonal norm. He was replaced by fellow lefty Ryan Yarbrough to begin the sixth inning.
Kershaw had been sidelined since July 3 because of shoulder inflammation. Although he was expected to rejoin the rotation shortly after the All-Star break, the results of an MRI caused Dr. Neal ElAttrache to advise the Dodgers to let him rest for another two weeks. During Kershaw's absence, he was selected to his 10th All-Star Game -- a contest he may have started had he been healthy.
Kershaw, 35, still led the Dodgers in innings pitched this season entering Thursday despite having not recorded an out at the big-league level in more than six weeks. Prior to going on the IL, he had accumulated a 2.55 ERA (174 ERA+) and a 4.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 95 1/3 innings. (Tony Gonsolin and Julio Urías rank second and third on the Dodgers in frames, with more than 92 apiece.)
The Dodgers, 67-46 on the season, entered Thursday with a six-game lead in the National League West. It's worth noting that the Dodgers entered July 3, the day Kershaw was placed on the IL, with a 46-37 record. In other words, they were able to reel off a 21-9 stretch without their ace.
Kershaw's return comes at a welcomed time for the Dodgers. They're currently without a number of other starters, including Walker Buehler, Dustin May and Michael Grove, who was placed on the IL earlier this week. Buehler, for his part, is hoping to make his own return sometime in September after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2022.