Superstar Clayton Kershaw, out since late June with a herniated disc in his back, could return to the Dodgers’ rotation as early as Friday, writes Jim Alexander of the Orange County Register. The left-hander struck out five batters in three innings of 34-pitch, one-hit ball in a rehab start at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday, saying afterward, “I felt good. I was able to warm up and sit in between innings and everything, stuff that’s bothered me in the past.” Prior to suffering the injury, Kershaw recorded a 1.79 ERA in 121 innings and looked like a shoo-in for the National League Cy Young Award. With a 16.11 K/BB ratio, he was also on track to shatter the record of 11.63 the Twins’ Phil Hughes set in 2014. It’s possible not pitching for two-plus months has killed Kershaw’s Cy Young changes, but he’s still among the majors’ leaders in fWAR and RA9-WAR despite having amassed far fewer innings than his closest competitors. The 28-year-old could give voters plenty to think about at season’s end, then. In the meantime, he’s primed to come back and try to help the NL West-leading Dodgers make a run at a World Series.
More news on a few other pitchers:
- Rangers reliever Jeremy Jeffress’ stay in rehab will likely last weeks, not months, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (video link). If true, Jeffress – who was arrested and charged with DWI last month – will have an opportunity to return this season. Jeffress could even throw with a staff member at his rehab clinic, which contains a workout facility, says Rosenthal. With that in mind, it shouldn’t take him long to get back into game shape before rejoining the Rangers as they chase a championship.
- The Padres aren’t optimistic right-hander Tyson Ross will play much of a role the rest of the season, but they’re not ready to shut him down, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The front-line starter has been on the shelf since Opening Day on account of shoulder inflammation. With the minor league regular season ending Monday, Ross won’t have a chance to embark on a rehab assignment. That means the 29-year-old is unlikely to serve as anything more than a short reliever if he does take the mound again for the Padres this season. Going forward, Ross won’t command much of a raise on his $9.625MM salary in his final year of arbitration eligibility, but a disastrous 2016 has likely caused significant damage to his once-high trade value.
- While Kershaw’s rehab outing went swimmingly Saturday, the same wasn’t true for teammate Brett Anderson. The oft-injured southpaw, who’s on the DL with a blister in his left index finger, followed Kershaw at Rancho Cucamonga and lasted just two frames in what was supposed to be a five-inning appearance, according to Alexander. Anderson yielded six runs and nine hits to continue what has been a season to forget. Thanks to multiple injuries, Anderson has thrown a mere four innings for the Dodgers this season. In his limited work, he has surrendered 11 earned runs on 14 hits and three walks.