The Dodgers announced that they’ve reinstated left-hander Clayton Kershaw from the disabled list and created a roster spot by optioning switch-pitcher Pat Venditte to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Kershaw, who’s been out since May 1 due to biceps tendinitis in his left arm, will start tonight’s game against the visiting Phillies.
The three-time NL Cy Young winner and five-time NL ERA leader will return to the Dodgers’ rotation just one day after right-hander Kenta Maeda landed on the disabled list with a right hip strain. It’s been an ongoing struggle for the Dodgers to keep their starting staff healthy so far this season, as Maeda is joined on the disabled list by lefties Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Kershaw’s absence proved to be shorter than his DL trips for back injuries in each of the past two seasons.
Kershaw will step back into the starting mix alongside Alex Wood, rookie sensation Walker Buehler and the breakout righty Ross Stripling. While that may not be a rotation mix the Dodgers anticipated having to lean upon in 2018, the quality of that group serves as a testament to the depth that the Dodgers seem to have a knack for cultivating on a yearly basis.
While the Dodgers’ early struggles garnered plenty of national media attention, they’ve quieted the narrative that their season was on the brink of being lost by rattling off 10 wins in their past 13 contests. Los Angeles is still three games south of the .500 mark, but the collapse of the former NL West-leading Diamondbacks has opened a door for the Dodgers, who now sit 3.5 games back from the Rockies, who suddenly find themselves in first place.
A healthy Kershaw will go a long way toward continuing their recent success, though there are clearly some longer-term implications here for both Kershaw and the team. Kershaw has the ability to opt out of the remaining two years of his contract at season’s end, and he’s all but certain to do so. While the Dodgers clearly possess the financial firepower to match or top virtually any offer another team can make to Kershaw, the price of a new contract with the Dodgers or another club will be impacted in no small part by his ability to put this injury behind him and return to his status as one of the game’s elite arms.